SELF MADE STRATEGIES EPISODE 056 WITH TONY LUKE, JR.
(NOTE: Listener Discretion is Advised – This Episode Contains Adult Content and Subject Matter That May Be Difficult to Listen to. We chose to maintain the integrity of Tony’s message by minimally editing this episode, so use your discretion when listening. We hope you enjoy it!)
Anthony Lucidonio, Jr., better known as Tony Luke, Jr., is an American entrepreneur, restaurateur, actor, TV personality (way back on Prism), musician, media host and (NOW) an anti-addiction-stigma activist. Tony co-founded the cheesesteak and sandwich franchise Tony Luke’s.
In the early 1990s Luke, his brother, Nicky, and their father bought a property near the expressway in South Philadelphia, where no one (at the time) wanted to build anything in that area, to open a small sandwich shop. To compete with other local businesses, the original Tony Luke’s stand offered a more diversified menu, initially offering roast pork sandwiches, hoagies and other fare. Originally, there were no cheesesteaks, but as always Tony Luke gave the people what they wanted (eventually adding cheesesteaks to the menu). Soon thereafter, PhillyMag ranked Tony Luke’s as BOTH the best Roast Pork sandwich AND the best Cheesesteak in Philly. That doubled their business almost overnight and led to Tony Luke taking over the store’s marketing.
Eventually, the business grew to include several locations in the Philadelphia area and a line of frozen sandwiches. Through a partnership with Rastelli Foods Group, the business now has several franchised locations worldwide, including in Bahrain.
Tony Luke’s would turn into a household name, and Tony Luke Jr would become the face of the franchise: starring in TV and radio commercials, facing off with Bobby Flay in a “Throwdown,” and even getting his own show on Spike TV (“Frankenfood”).
But, before his father even had the thought to build a sandwich shop, Tony Luke Jr had already lived multiple lives: from being a rough-and-tumble South Philly kid, to a budding Hollywood movie star in LA, to scoring a record deal as the crooner of an R&B band.
Tony Luke was born in South Philly and attended the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in its first year (Tony was an “original”). Tony Luke credits CAPA as having saved his life. During his time at CAPA, Tony hustled his way into a cast party for Rocky II (in Philly).
Using methamphetamine and other drugs as a teenager, Tony Luke now uses that experience, as well as the fighting and hustling of his youth, to explain to kids that difficulties can be overcome.
On today’s episode we will:
- Get to know Tony and hear his amazing story
- We will discuss Tony Luke’s strategies for maintaining your edge
- Discuss the benefits of collaborating to make magic happen
What you will hear on this episode:
- Why Tony believes that his gut leads him where he needs to be
- How every day in life, Tony tries to strengthen his weaknesses and tries every day in his life to share his strengths with other people to help their weaknesses become stronger (and why you should do the same)
- Why ego can never be a part of growth
- How Tony Luke, Jr., along with his father and brother, literally built Tony Luke’s
- Why strategic marketing initiatives were at the core of making “Tony Luke” into a household name
- How a Heroin overdose brought Tony Luke to collaborate with several musicians to raise mental health and addiction stigma awareness
- Information about the Sound Mind Network and their initiatives to raise awareness
- How Tony Luke deals with competitors
- And so much more!
This Self Made Strategies Podcast is a SoftStix Productions LLC jawn. This episode was produced, edited, and hosted by Tony Lopes, on location in Philadelphia. The Self Made Strategies Podcast is sponsored by Lopes Law LLC (www.LopesLawLLC.com).
HERE IS THE TRANSCRIPT FOR EPISODE 056 OF THE SELF MADE STRATEGIES PODCAST:
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:00:20] Welcome to another episode of the self-made strategies podcast. I’m your host Tony Lopes, and with me today is Anthony Lusa Donio jr better known as Tony Luke jr an American entrepreneur, restauranteur actor, TV personality, way back to prism. If you folks remember that musician media host and now an anti addiction stigma activist.
And also reviving his musical career. Tony, how’s it going?
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:00:48] I’m doing good.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:00:48] How are you? Yeah, I’m really fantastic. Thank you so much for this opportunity. This is like a bucket list item
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:00:54] for me, by the way. You’re being to Kai. Well,
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:00:56] you’re a legend in Philadelphia. Listen, when I was telling people, you’re not going to believe who I’m going to get to sit down with and record a podcast with.
Tony Luke, people were going, wow, that’s amazing. So it’s cool.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:01:10] All two people.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:01:16] So Tony cofounded the cheese steak in sandwich, I’d call it an empire, but franchise Tony, Luke’s, Tony Luke, his brother Nicky, and their father bought a property near the expressway in South Philadelphia where no one at the time wanted to build anything in that area to open up a small sandwich shop to compete with other local businesses.
The original Tony Luke’s stand offered a more diversified menu initially offering roast pork sandwiches, hoagies and other fair, but no cheese steaks, as is typical with Tony Luke. He gave the people what they wanted about six months in eventually adding cheese steaks to the menu. Soon thereafter, Philly mag ranks, Tony Luke’s as both the best roast pork sandwich and the best cheese steak in Philadelphia on the same issue.
That doubled their business almost overnight and led Tony Luke to taking over the stores. Marketing. Eventually, the business grew to include several locations in the Philadelphia area and a line of frozen sandwiches. Through a partnership with the foods group. The business now has several franchise locations worldwide, including in Bahrain.
Tony Luke’s would turn into a household name, and Tony Luke jr would become the face of the franchise starring in TV and radio commercials and even facing off with Bobby Flay in a Throwdown and even getting his own show on spike TV Frankenfood. But before his father had even thought to build the sandwich shop.
Tony Luke jr had already lived multiple lives from being a rough and tumble South Philly kid to a budding Hollywood movie star in LA to scoring a record deal as the crooner of an R and B band. Tony Luke was born in South Philly and attended Philadelphia’s high school for the creative and performing arts (CAPA).
For those of you who are from the city in its first year, Tony Luke credits CAPA as having saved his life and wishes that the majority of the people that he grew up with in this 10 block radius neighborhood could have gone to capita to have the same experiences that he had. During his time at CAPA, Tony hustled his way into a cast party for Rocky two in Philly, which we’ll get to in a second in a darker time during his life using methamphetamine and other drugs as a teenager, Tony Luke experienced some hardships.
Tony now uses that experience as well as the fighting and hustling of his youth to explain to kids that these difficulties can be overcome after high school. Tony, Luke married at the age of 18 and was also a state kickboxing champion from 1982 to 1983. Unbelievable bio and we’re not going to,
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:03:47] wow, a lot of research.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:03:49] Tony, this, I don’t even know where to begin. Normally we start with how you got started with your entrepreneurial venture, and we talk about Tony Luke’s, but we can’t start there. I think we have to go all the way back to your audition at CAPA. And let me just take a quick moment, a quick time out to, thank.
Kevin Chemidlin of the Philly Who? Podcast (https://podphillywho.com/), who introduced us.
He’s an amazing, amazing, amazing collaborator. Thank you so much, Kevin. Let’s start with CAPA. It’s the first ever year for CAPA in Philadelphia. It’s the creative and performing arts school, a magnet school sort of geared towards helping. Kids from the city get the opportunity to really focus on drama, creative arts, music, all
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:04:31] those creative writing dance,
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:04:33] and it’s the first ever class you show up to audition.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:04:37] through that.
Well, I was actually, um, I got kicked out of Bishop Newman high school and I went to work, but I was young. I was 15, I think. And, um, there was an ad in the newspaper for an audition for a new type of school called creative and performing arts. And I remember I was working in, my father came up to me and he said, you want to be this a music drama actor?
There’s a school, you’ve got to go back to school. You’re 15 you can’t go back to work. You can’t just keep working. You have to go back to school. So, Oh God, thousands of kids or like, it was crazy. I remember, you know, pulling up and you know, getting off the bus and it was like, there were kids from everywhere.
Like. Everywhere. And you know, I had this, you know, it’s kind of South Philly attitude going in. Um, and they made you, do, you know, whatever your, um, your major was, or your minor was if you were a, mine’s was a drama major and a music minor. So you would have to do, you know, a reading from a play and then you would, um, you know, have to sing if you were going to do music, and then you went through all these different steps, they would interview you.
And I’m looking and I’m thinking there’s thousands of kids. I’m like, I’m never, never getting in. This is really a waste of time, but I always loved film. I loved music from when I was a kid. I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I did know that I wanted it to be some type of performer or entertainer. I always knew that from a very, very young age.
So I go in, we do the audition. I don’t know if I’m doing well. Um, so everyone has to get up on stage and they have to be something. Who wants to be a tree? You know, who’s, who’s a cow? You know who’s a butterfly? And so they look at me and they were like, well, we want to be, I’m like, I don’t know. They’re like, you can be a dog.
And I’m thinking in my head, could this get any. Yeah. So I figured in my head, if I’m going to be a dog, then I’m going to be a dog. So I remember getting on all fours on stage and I was barking and you know, kids were moving who were cows and people that were butterflies were flapping their arms. They had wings.
And we were on a stage and, um, Lenny Daniel’s, God bless her, was, um, one of the teachers from the drama department, and she was one of the people that were going to pick who gets in. Then there were Jerry Saucerman and Ken horror off and, and everyone was, was at the table. So I decided if I was going to do, you know, be my character.
I would be my character. So I jumped off of this stage and Lenny was sitting, Lenny Dana’s was sitting in a chair and it was summertime, so it was like really hot. And Erin, you know, she had a long dress on and I decided to crawl like a dog, and then I kind of inserted my head. Between her calves, like a dog, cats.
I said, calves don’t go to the next place. It was literally her calves like a dog would do, you know, dog comes any, you know, and she jumped out of that chair laughing. So asterics . And I’m like kind of wagging my butt. Like I’m wagging my tail. And she got the humor, thank God what I was doing. And for anyone who’s listening, there was nothing sexual or dirty about it.
My head was facing the floor and you know, it was her calves and ankles that I, I placed my head in. And, um. She literally could not stop lit. She just was like, this guy’s crazy, this kid, and then I went back up on stage and then. I went auditioned for singing. So I had to do something. I Capello and I’ll never forget.
I did a track called always in forever, and I did that, you know, acapella. I was like super, super nervous. So I leave there and I go, you, you know, you jumped off the stage, you made a poor woman jump out of her chair. There’s no way on God’s earth you are, you know, you’re not getting in. And there were so many incredibly talented.
People, and I don’t know how long, I’ll be honest, I can’t tell you how much longer was, but then I received the letter and it said, congratulations, you have been accepted to the high school for granted performing arts. And I say, it saved my life because this is, you know, 19 I was at 77 maybe. I think 77 I’m getting old now.
So years get by me. Um, I lived in a 10 by 10 block area. I mean, you know, every Philly was made up of all these neighborhoods, so it was like, you hated anyone. Outside of the 10 by 10 it didn’t matter what someone’s race was, a religion. If they weren’t in your 10 by 10 block area, you, they were your enemy.
Like basically that’s, you know, was the mentality that the street was back then and here I’m in school with. Such a diverse group of people and, and all these different religions and nationalities. And so right away I, you know, went on the defensive thinking, well, everyone here wants to hurt me. And that was kind of my mentality, right?
And I remember getting there, and I remember after the first week thinking like, everyone is lied to me my entire life. Everyone I went to school with were amazing, incredible, beautiful human beings, and it changed. It kind of opened my eyes to something outside of those 10 by 10 blocks, and it introduced me to different cultures and different religions.
And. All of these things I got to to to see and understand, and it changed the way I looked at the world and I developed friendships and relationships that to this day I still have, and that’s why I say. It saved my life cause I was really going in a direction where I would either be, would have been dead or I would have been in prison.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:11:33] And so, okay, now that leads us to your love of film and all things creative. And you find out that Rocky too is having a cast party. In Philadelphia. So
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:11:45] tell us about that story.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:11:48] This is in Kevin’s episode of Philly who, but, um, but I had to ask it live just cause I thought it was such a cool experience and I want to hear about this.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:11:56] we’re in school. I find out that they’re doing the Rocky to luncheon. And I want to say it was at the Barclays. That’s like, I want it again or the Warwick. I’m not 100% sure. Uh, but I know it was like around Rittenhouse square. And our school was on broad and spruce, so I convinced my friend Ralph Satterthwaite to cut school and go to the luncheon, and he was like, we’re not going to get like, we’re not getting in.
It’s like, it’s a lunch in. It’s Rocky too. We’re never going to, and I’m like, all you have to do Ralph, is just follow my lead. So we walk into the enter the cell. And I said, uh, yeah, Tony, Lucia, Donio, Ralph Satterthwaite, I’m here to pick up my passes. And the woman said, excuse me, I’m like, press now. Um, we’re, you know, we’re, we’re 16, you know, Hey, we’re actually 15, 15 or 16, and.
I, they’re like press. I’m like, yeah, press. Have you ever heard of the high school of creative and performing arts? It’s right around the corner. Well we write for the paper and we’re doing a whole story. I said, I talked to Irwin Winkler, you know, a while back and he said he would leave tickets cause I did my homework.
You can’t try to con your way into someplace and not do your homework. Right. So I knew Aaron Winkler, Lewis, the producer, and. I thought, okay, well shoot, give me passes. And I now, so she picks up the phone and she calls someone and I hear her go, no, I don’t, I don’t know. What is your name? Tony Lou Donio Ralph saddles way yet.
Well, they said, yeah, okay, hold on. And it’s gives me the phone and I’m like, hello? I was like, who’s this? I’m like, . He goes, this is Irwin Winkler. And I go, yes, sir. And he goes, we spoke . You spoke to me about passes to get in and I said, well, I, then I spoke to your secretary and she went, he goes, well, which office?
New York or LA? And I’m thinking, Oh, where would he probably not be? And I think, and again, I honestly don’t remember if I said New York or Philly, but whatever it was, I said, I got it right. Cause he’s like, Oh, you know, they don’t, all right. Put her back on the phone. So they gave me these two passes and I’m, you know, I’m elbow and Ralph, like I told you, just, you know, following my lead.
So here I am, I’m strutting up with the South Philly struck, we get on the elevator, we go upstairs and I get out now in front of the dining hall is the security guard. And he’s not a big guy. He’s, I wasn’t tall. I’m five, nine, so he had to be like five, seven, thin. And we go and he goes, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa.
Where are you going? And I’m like press and I’m showing him the things, but now he’s got a South Philly accent. I hear it. So he ain’t taking any shit, and he’s like, I don’t know how you got those passes, but you’re not getting in. And I’m like, I’m not getting in. Who are you? Tell me I’m not, you know, and I’m going off now.
Now Ralph is like starting to be like, maybe we should go my go on anyway, we were pressed and where the fit and now I’m getting loud and I’m going to rent a cop. You’re a big man with a job, you know, really going on. And then this guy walks over in a three piece suit, thin, thin. Dressed to the nines. He goes, excuse me, you know what’s going on?
I’m like, I’ll tell you what’s going on. This big shot, you know, ran a cop. The bear told me I can’t get in. I’m pressed. So the guy in the. Three pieces starts laughing hysterically and he goes, it’s right there with me. They can come in with me. So now I want to see Sylvester slick. I want to, I want to be in Rocky three you know what I mean?
Like I, I want to meet him and convince him that I’m the actor that he needs in Rocky three
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:15:54] that’s the whole reason you’re there.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:15:55] The whole reason I’m there. So we started walking in and there’s all these people in there and this guy starts walking. And we’re kind of walking away from all the main tables and we go to this single table that’s kinda not butted up against any other tables.
So now I’m thinking, I’m not sure this guy’s got to bring me in. We’re sitting in the nosebleeds. Who’s going, who am I going to see? You know the hair? I’m like, Oh, great, great job. So he sits down and he goes, hi kid. He’s got a, you know, heavy New York accent. All right, kid.
So I’m like, you know, I got to this, come on. And I’m like, all right, well, I found out this guy, Irwin Winkler, he does this thing as the producer. And I’m like, so I go to the lady and McCall and I’m like mimicking him now. So he gets on the phone and he’s like, hello. And I’m like, Hey, can we spoke is, Oh, I don’t remember.
Like, Hey, yeah, your secretary did from the other. Oh. And I’m like, this jacket sends me that, you know? And I’m really like laying it on, you know, thick. And he’s laughing hysterically. And he goes, he goes, ah. He goes, that’s brilliant. It’s brilliant. So Ralph sitting in and I, you know, I w Oh, I try to remember how nuts, I remember telling the guard.
He’s like, you got to go. I’m like, I want my fruit cup. I got remarried. It was a luncheon. And I’m like, I want my fruit cop. Like it’s a luncheon. So. So, uh, we sit at the table and now I’m just sitting there. Now, I don’t know who he is. Like I have no concept of who he is. And I love Rocky. Like I love Rocky Juan and we’ll see Rocky do.
And you know, I didn’t see Rocky two yet because it wasn’t out right. So. So all of a sudden I see like Carl weathers and I’m like, Oh my God, Carl weathers. And he’s like walking through the thing and he’s coming closer and I’m like, I’m hitting on, like he’s coming there and then he comes over and he sits at the same table.
Then I’m sitting and I’m like, Whoa, my God, like, who is this guy? And he goes, Hey, this is a, what is it again? It’s Tony Lucia hedonia over a car. Well, like, Hey car. Then here comes Tao, you shot like the whole cast. And I’m thinking, who are you? Like, who is this guy? So now this other guy walks up and this guy burst out laughing and I’m like, what’s funny?
He goes, Oh. I need to introduce you to someone. So this guy comes and he sits down and he goes, uh, Hey. He goes, Tony is Dannijo, Ralph Satterthwaite, sail loader, Irwin Winkler, and I go, how are you, ms Sewickley? He goes, Tony, looser. Donio he goes, did we just talk on the phone you get? I’m like, yeah. He goes, you got your tickets.
I see. Yeah. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it. You know now, but I want to see Stallone. And Harry comms crowd goes crazy in the launch. They’re like roped off, you know? Now I see people looking like, Oh, who are they? Are they two new guys in the mood? So I’m loving it. I’m like, yeah, yeah, yeah. So they bring the food I’m eating and I’m looking at Ralph going, you want to be sitting in school?
We’re sitting with the care. So it comes to loan and, and he says to me, uh, a, a sly, this is turning the stone. He goes, Hey, how you doing? Hey dad. Yeah. And then he sits down and then they’re talking and I go. Excuse me. I go, who are you? And he goes, I’m an actor. And I go, Oh, you’re in the new Rocky? And he goes, yeah, I go, we’re in the first Rocky.
And he goes, yeah, Oh yeah, you aren’t in the first time I watched the first Rocky. Yeah, like a little bit part, like something, you know? And he goes, no. He goes, I play Paulie. Like Paulie or young plays ball. He’s like, yeah, man, I am Burt young. I’m like, nah, bro, Young’s fat, you know? And he starts laughing and he goes, I lost a lot of weight.
And then I’m thinking, Oh my God, it’s Paul. So now I’m like, Oh, now I’m like my boy, boy, you know? And he got off and we had a great, we had a really amazing time, but I need to talk. So he takes out a card. And he puts his cell number, I mean, his, uh, office number on there. And he says, um, talk to Tammy, who’s my assistant, and, uh, come to LA and I’ll take care of you.
I’m like, really? Goes, you just completely remind me of me. He’s like, and I love South Philly. I’m a New York guy is by love South Philly and you’re crazy. And I liked that. He said, and I’ll take care of you. So then we’re getting ready to leave. And he goes, Hey, did you guys eat yet? Cause if you want to have a limo, I was going to go eat.
Do you want to go eat? And then here comes Stallone. And I go, no, no, no, no. I got to talk to Sylvester now going to talk this alone. And he goes, all right, go talk this alone. He goes, but here’s my card. Give me a call. So I’m trying to get them and everyone’s around them and there, and then he gets in the elevator.
I’ll never forget this as long as I have, he gets in the elevator and I’m like, excuse me. So I said, mr solemn Sloan. He goes, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I go, listen, I, how do I get in in the next Rocky movie? And he goes, your audition like everybody else. And then the doors.
That’s your story. Unbelievable. Should’ve went and had fucking dinner would have been better,
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:21:32] but you got your fruit cup at least, right?
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:21:34] I got my fruit cup, I got my lunch. Ralph was completely, you know, he was blown away. We had such a really, really good time. Cool. But my, my I, my way of thinking was always.
Like, don’t tell me I can’t do something
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:21:49] right there. That’s what I really want. I wanted to ask you about, because I kind of relate in many ways that frequently I don’t see obstacles. When I need to get to an objective, I’d just say that’s what we’re going to do, and then we’ll figure out the rest of it when we get there.
And that’s what you did with this, right?
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:22:08] Yeah. Cause I was stupid. See when you’re dumb. You don’t even realize that there are obstacles, right? So I think it’s your ignorance and stupidity to go, Ooh, I could do it. I think if I was educated and knew what I was up against, I’d be like, Oh, I can’t do this shit.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:22:22] No, but maybe that’s where the genius is because you don’t see limits. So you say, “I gotta go meet Stalone cause I want to be in Rocky III” and I’m a 16 or 17 year old kid going to CAPA. All I gotta do is meet the guy and I’ll get my shot. And you made it happen so. How did that experience then later lead to all of your entrepreneurial success?
Ultimately with Tony Luke’s with turning it into this massive franchise, to this household brand? I mean, Jim’s Geno’s all the cheese steak places had been around for a long
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:22:55] time, which are all great, by the way. Right? Truthfully. Um, but, but.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:23:01] What do you see in yourself that maybe others don’t, or you see a situation differently than your friend, for example, who just said, what are we going to do?
We’re going to go down there. How are you going to meet Stallone and you, you almost willed it. You, you basically said, no, we’re going to go down there. We’re going to get into this luncheon and we’re going to meet Stallone.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:23:22] I think with me now, again, I’m everything in life that happens to you. It changes you.
Right. And I, I, I don’t want to misquote, but I believe it was, Will Smith, who’s, who’s an incredibly good man. I think it was will, who said if you’re the same at 50 as you were at 30, then you didn’t get it right. And I am very different now than I was before. Um, I think though with me, I believe in myself.
And I believe that my gut leads me where I need to be. Now, have I made mistakes. Thousands but I tried. I always tried not to repeat the same mistake. I believe that mistakes are something that is absolutely essential. There’s no greater learning tool than making a mistake. I mean, you can read all the books you want, and you know, you can take all the tests you want, but the truth is, until you get in the thick of it, until you do it, you realize that you know, the theory of something is one thing.
Um, the actual practice of it could be something completely different. And you, you, you, you need to believe in who you are. Now, with that being said, you can’t be delusional. Like you can’t be someone who is tone deaf. And can never sing in key and go, my dream is to be a famous singer. Right? I mean, those, those things are, they’re just unrealistic.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:25:04] Yeah. You and I are never playing in the NBA.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:25:06] Right. I’m not playing the NBA less. I want a heart attack in the first two, but, but there, there are certain, there are certain limitations that you, you just. Now. Again, I’m not saying if someone is tone deaf, but they really want to be a singer, that they shouldn’t try to overcome that so that don’t miss misunderstand what I’m saying.
There are absolutely certain things and disabilities that can be overcome and are overcome every day by amazing people. But the truth is, as much as we’d like to think that anything that we want. Is in our reach. That’s, that’s not reality. There are limitations. I know what my strengths are. I know what my weaknesses are.
I try every day in life to strengthen my weaknesses and I try every day in my life to share my strengths with other people to help their weaknesses become stronger. Because that’s how I, I believe we’re every this, I do believe every single individual. That is is born. Every single individual that is walking the face of the earth is gifted with something.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:26:22] I share that belief with you.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:26:23] I really do. And the sad thing is when people try to beat that gift out of them and make them. Doubt their gift and make them. That’s why I’ve, I’ve always said that, you know, the greatest crime to me of all is to, um, to discourage someone who has a love for something. Because if you truly love something, you’ll find a way.
But like I said, you know, I, I’m not, I’m not six foot four, six foot five, I’m five, nine, I’m a hundred pounds overweight. I’m not playing for the NBA. I’m 58 so I could want to play for the NBA all that I want. It’s never going to happen right now. Those are some realities that those are truths that just are what they are, but I don’t, I don’t believe any child.
Is ever limited in anything that they do, and I believe it is. It is not just something that we should do. I believe it is something that we have to do as adults who have a gift in something to do everything in anything we can to help nurture that gift. You know, for children to reach the Heights that they, they can reach.
And I think, you know, it’s corny when I’m about to say, but some things that are true are corny because there’s truth in him. And it’s true. You know, you never stand as tall as when you bend down to pick someone up. And that is a belief that I’ve learned over the years through everything. That you know that I’ve been through, and I believe it more now than I ever have in my entire life.
So I listened to my gut and I move forward, and if there’s a wall and I can’t break it down, I’ll go around it. I’ll find I will find a way. And I, and I also believe that things, things happen in the time that they should. Because we want things when we want them. But the truth is that’s not what the gift is for.
You know, you’re giving a gift and it’s meant for a specific thing. And when we really make it about us, and when that gift becomes ego and that gift becomes, you know, cockiness. Uh, and it’s all encompassing and everything else suffers because you want it when you want it and you want it for you. I believe that’s when you have the greatest chance of failing.
But when you want to do it because you want to share that gift with others and in hopes that that can make a difference, I believe that’s when you have the greatest chance. To succeed.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:29:22] Very interesting. And, and especially because you talk a lot about a, your ability to think on your feet and your confidence in yourself, but at the same time, you’re super collaborative and you care about others and seeing others succeed and helping them.
And maybe that mixture of the two for some reason, makes you who you are and enables you to, to. Blast through these obstacles that get in your way every
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:29:45] once in a while. It has worked for me so far. I mean, it’s backfired a few times, but the one thing I try to explain to people I’ve met, I believe this as well.
I believe that there are way more good people on this planet than there are negative people. I don’t even want to say good. There are more positive people than negative because really what is good and bad. You know, I believe there’s positive and negative energy, and I just believe that the negative energy is so destructive that it overshadows the positive energy.
But I tried it when I talked to you enough. When I go out and I speak and I talk to, you know, kids in high school and I try to explain to them that the worst thing you can do in life. Is have someone, bitch if someone betrays you because you put yourself out there and you’re open. If you allow that person to make you shut yourself down, that is the worst thing.
Gee, you know, you’d have to look at it and go, you know what? That person didn’t appreciate who I was, didn’t appreciate my kindness, or, or, um, or my willingness to give of myself. Well that honestly, that’s their loss. Yeah. I look at it and go, well, that’s your loss. Because you had someone in your corner who cared about you, who wanted to make life better for you any way that they could, and you threw it away.
Yeah. Yeah. But you can’t let it make you jaded where you change who you are. Right.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:31:24] And that’s a part of your story. And again, people should go back and listen to, to Philly who, to the episode with you, because you talk a lot about your. Perseverance as a kid where you would get into a fist fight and you are getting your ass kicked in the story that
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:31:39] the 9% of the time,
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:31:41] but you just very Rocky Balbo and I know that was your nickname as well.
A capita, they call her Brock,
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:31:46] right?
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:31:47] So you were a huge fan of Rocky to begin with, but just like Rocky, you’d get hit and you adjust. I’m not going down. You’re going to have to kill me if you, if you want to stop me.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:31:56] Basically I have to tell you, life has. Truly hit me in the worst conceivable ways and I, I will not lay down and die.
I want, it’s not, it’s not in my DNA. I, I, I just can’t do it. I have to continue to fight until there is no breath left in me. It’s
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:32:20] very admirable. It really is
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:32:22] me.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:32:23] Now going back to to, um, you’re going to the Rocky to luncheon, so you get a business card. What happens next?
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:32:33] He really wants to go back. So a friend of mine, um, said to me.
He taught me a new word, and I said, what the hell does that mean? And he’s like, Oh, that’s your Tony, it’s you. And the word he had said to me was hyperbole. And then I realized, you know, I’m very excited and passionate about what I do. So I’m like, Oh, this is going to be great. This is when, you know we can’t fail and we’re going to meet.
It’s amazing, and we’re, we’re going to lose it and then we’re going to keep going. And we keep going. And he goes, you know. You saw hyperbolas and I’m like, what the hell is I? You know, and he, you know, he’s right. So, you know, I sell everything I have. I had a car, sold it, and I said to my mother and father, I’m moving to Los Angeles and I’m going to be a movie star and I’m not coming back.
So I was cocky. Um, I was not a bad looking kid. Only problem was I knew it. Uh, I was . I was very good with speaking to women. So I got on a plane. Literally, I get on a plane. I have no place to stay, no where to go. I have some money in my pocket. Don’t know what I’m going to do when I get off the plane. Now, this is what we call super arrogant.
And egotistical. I believe in my head. I’ll just meet a girl on the plane, she’ll dig me, I’ll move in with her. She’ll, I become a star. Can’t make this up. So I get on a plane and it’s kind of empty. I never flew before. So here I am with the suitcase and my whole life is in, I’m not even 18 years old yet.
I’m still like 17 and I drop out of. Well perform a cab. I don’t drop out. I leave early cause the truth is I made all the grades to get my diploma. I just didn’t stay cause I did graduate from cap. Oh awesome. And I leave before the graduation all itself. So you know, I get on a plane and I’m scoping the plane out and there’s this beautiful brunette and she’s sitting alone and I like kind of walk over and there was all these MTC 10 it’s the seventies so.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:35:09] turning on the bus.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:35:10] Yeah. So I’m like, hi. She’s like, hi. And I’m like, do you mind if I, it was my first time flying and I really hate it, and do you mind it said, no, that’s it. And then we started talking and she’s like, so you’re in LA? I’m like, yes. Do you live there? Like none. I’m an actor. It’s like, Oh, really?
She goes, I’m an actor. I’m like, you are the yam an actress. It’s amazing. Said, you know, and we’re talking hours into the flight. So about an hour before we land, she goes, so this is great. We should stay in touch. She’s like, where are you staying? And I’m like, man, I really don’t have any place to stay. So what do you mean?
I’m like, I just winged it and I bought a plane ticket and I came out here. I guess I’ll take your cash cause Oh no, you stay with me. And in my head I’m like, of course she’s, of course,
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:35:56] this is exactly what you plan.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:35:57] Exactly what I wanted. And. Again, not helping my ego, Annie. I’m like, all right, this is great.
So we get off the plane and I’m thinking, this is unbelievable. So she says to me, I have a car coming and get us now. I’m like, Oh my God. She probably lives in Beverly Hills or Bel air. I’m staying with a millionaire. Like who could have wrote, could I have written this any better? This is incredible. And I’m thinking, beautiful girl.
First time in LA, I never saw a Palm tree. I remember when I go shoot, like you are right. I’m like, wow, what is that? It’s like, that’s a Palm tree. I’m like, that’s amazing. I never saw Palm tree before, so I’m waiting for the car to come and I’m thinking I got it made. All of a sudden this beat up crappy Volkswagen.
Comes putting up. And she goes, Oh, and the guy gets out and she’s like, Oh, Tony rides here. I’m like, well, that’s not a limo, you know? And she goes, Tony, this is my husband. She goes, and I’m like, Oh, she’s got a heart. This is not how I planned it. And she’s like, he’s a fellow actor and he’s struggling. Maybe you can sleep on the couch for a while.
So he’s like, yeah, no problem. And he was a comic, actually. And I’m sleeping on a couch and I’m there. You know? Now I, I call Bert. I tell bird I’m there. Now I’m thinking South Philly. So Bert says, Hey, look, take your picture, your headshot. Go to the casting agency, give it to them. And I know I help you out because I’m like, but I’m.
South Philly street. So I’m thinking completely different.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:37:39] Somebody says, you’re good, you’re good.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:37:41] So I go and I have my head shot, you know, and I, the woman’s net rounded can’t go. I go, here you go. Totally Stony Tony. This is my info. Yeah, yeah. I’m like, you know, Burt young told me to come give you the picture.
She’s like, all right, okay, bye. So I go, well, and she goes, well, what? I’m like. What do you mean? Well, what would move you my, where you sending me? We’re moving, we’re moving. Am I doing? And she goes, are you serious? And I’m like, well, yay. I was told to come here. Do you understand that? She’s like, yeah. I’m like, you have my picture.
And I remember her literally going, you see all those filing cabinets behind me? They all have pictures. I’m like, you’re not getting it there. I don’t know why I was told to come here. Don’t you understand? She goes, yeah, I understand. Give me the picture. So now I’m upset. I, you know, I get ahold of birdies on the set of a film.
It’s like, Tony, you already family. You have bird. Some drones is late. You know, I go, you’re my pictures. She’s like not sending me anywhere for a job. He’s like, no, no, Tony, you give her the picture and. Um, I’m with you, like, I’m going to help you where I’m like, well, that’s not any help, Burt. And I kinda walked in and gave the picture of myself and he’s like, no, Tony, don’t work that way just to, anyway, well, about a week goes by and the woman’s husband that I’m staying says, Hey, when I get some breakfast, I’m like, yeah.
And he goes, how are you doing toe? I’m like, good, good. He’s like, um, how’s the apartment hunting? Calming. And I’m like, yeah. I’m like, uh, well, I really didn’t have, you don’t have a chance to look yet. He goes, uh, I like you, Tony. I do. Well, yeah, I think you just, you know that, um, we’re married, right? And I went, yeah, yeah.
And you know, you’ve been here like over a week, alums to weeks, and I appreciate it. He goes, yeah, I know. He said, but you know, married couples like to be with each other. And can’t do it. So now I go, Hey, look, you want me to like get room for a night or two somewhere? And he goes, no, I want you to move out.
And I moved into this hotel room and I wind up getting into a fight with James Kahn. And it was just, if I get an sir over here an hour, and you know, I kind of was very politely told. Might be a good idea to leave California. Why you still have legs now? Why
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:40:20] was it Jimmy Kahn that told you you had to get out of LA or did somebody tell you somebody
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:40:25] else?
It was, it was. It would have been bad, you know, like it would’ve been, it would’ve been a bad thing. I, you know, cause being from South Philly, I was very mouthy and, you know, I was getting mouthy with the wrong people in Los Angeles. And like, Jimmy con, well, Jimmy Kahn was, you know, he wasn’t a joke. People look at him as an actor, but trust
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:40:43] me, he was connected.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:40:45] He was no joke. And I, and then I’m thinking, well, I’m no joke either, dude. Like I have family in South Philly, I know people, and now as the 70s. And it’s like, and, uh. I left and as soon as I came back, I got married. Like literally a week later, I ran off to Elkton, Maryland cause we were, she was too young.
She was 17 and I had just turned 18. And we got married,
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:41:09] and then you start having kids, and
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:41:11] was born
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:41:12] a working stiff after that for a little while,
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:41:14] for a little while. But, but then, you know, music was my thing.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:41:17] Right? So then walk us through that. So then roughly 1984, you meet max Weissman, right?
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:41:23] Um, so I want to put a band together, and again.
I don’t realize that I can, no limits, no limits. So I’m, I’m, I’m looking, trying to find someone, and I’m walking, I think it was Chestnut street, and I remember, and I hear this sax player, like just playing and he’s crushing it. And I look, and it was the new power conservatory music. And I, and I remember, I have a, I have a cut sleeve tee shirt with jeans.
With a vest on, a leather vest with a, an earring that literally comes down to my shoulder and I just looked like I’m going to hurt someone. And I walk in just walking, trying to find where the plane’s coming from and there he is, max, and he’s playing and he goes, can I help you? I’m like, you’re good. And he goes, yeah.
He goes, I’m Tony Lucidonio and putting the band together. You’re playing sax. And he’s like, excuse me. I’m like, I’m putting a band together. I’m a songwriter, I’m a singer. I’m gonna put a band together, can be great. You want in? Yes, you want to end, you want in? And he’s like, all right, all right. And that’s basically how I got every member of the band.
And we, you know, we rehearsed and I didn’t think we couldn’t do it. And my problem was, I always thought. Until very recently, I was always got to the tip of making it and then something literally out of my control. Always. Yeah. Happened and I lost it. Do you think there’s a pattern in that? There was a pattern, but I remember being a little resentful to God at the time, and I remember, you know, I would pray and I would say to him, why would you give me a gift.
And then never allow me to use it. Like what? I don’t get it. And every time I’d come back, something would happen and then something would happen to shut it down. And then I remember just quitting and I said, I’m not going to do me. I’m just not going to do it. Cause it ain’t about the music anymore.
Because basically, honestly for me, I loved music, but it was about me, right? It’s like, yeah, you know, I want to be a rock star. Like I want to be, you know? And it was very selfish. And it was all about me making it in music, not the music, the music I took for granted because I could hear it and I, and I was good at writing it and I just thought, yeah, man, it just, it’s a guess.
Right? But I need to make tons of money with it and everything was very selfish base. Yeah. Cause you meet
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:44:09] max, you got, you end up going back to LA for a second step
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:44:14] and then you go to Tim records and we caught an album and I’m thinking, I made it. This is it. I did it, I made it. So the album’s finished.
I’m very excited about now. Tell you how committed I was though. True story about my music. I’ll commit your one. Regret my, my, my, you know, commitment to music. So we’re in studio B and ain’t and records and Michael Jackson is in studio a recording. So they come in my studio and I’m, you know, we’re getting ready and I’m laying tracks down or a mixing of the, and they go, Hey guys, you want to stop?
You know, you want to come in and meet Michael and just, and I’m like, no, dude, I’m doing my music. I have time to meet Michael. The time. And I didn’t. And I, you know, I was regretted that I might have time. I’m like, I’m doing my, I was so focused, folks with the music, and then we finished, and this may sound completely absurd to anyone in 2020, but it was not absurd then.
And I remember walking into the, um, the office, Jonathan McLean. Was the head of A&R to time and sitting in the room was John McClain, herb Albert, Jerry Moss, who is the M and a and M, and Chuck, me and Joanie, and they said to me, Tony, the album is great. Thank you. It’s really, really good. And I was like, Oh yeah, thank you.
He said, but we’re not gonna not gonna release it. And I was like, well, why? He said the great, he said, look, we’ll give you the masters back so you can do what you want. Because they paid for all of them and they were not going to hold the masters. And, and I said, why? And he said, well, I don’t want to lie to you.
I’m going to tell you the truth. He said, what I’m telling right now, you say it, I’ll deny it. He’s like, but you look like somebody. I can tell the truth too. And I really didn’t say anything for now, but it’s know so many years. He’s, what is it, almost 30 something years. He said to me, we worked with the marketing department for the last two weeks.
We don’t have a clue how to market you. You are, I can’t market you as a white artist because you do R and B music. He said, and I can’t market you as an R and B artists because you’re white. And I remember him saying, there’s a duet on the album with a black woman. I’m like, yeah. And he’s like, how do I market that?
Like I can’t, I don’t know how to market that Tony. And then it clicked later, which is really funny because Michael McDonald and Patty LaBelle did a song together, but now you Google this and you see what I’m saying? They did a video. Now that’s Michael McDonald and Patty LaBelle. They are never together in the video, ever.
He’s in one city singing to her. She’s in another city singing to him. They’re never together. So I got very discouraged. Um, really, I, I realized it wasn’t about the music. It was about politics. It was about image. It was about, you know. All of the things that didn’t involve music. And I remember leaving and I was crushed.
And, um, Greg pack from Island records called me and he said, I’d like to see you, I’d like to try to get you an Island. And we went in the studio. I remember we went toK gyms, and then there was, you know, studio four was a little later. Um. It was K gems and . Um, we caught more tracks, the band.
And then in the end it came down between me and a gentleman named miles J and they gave it to miles. And then I thought, well, there’s a flashback again. I’m like, is it, you know, cause I’m a time, is that why, you know, and the Island recommended gimme me, you know. And he’s like, look, he said, Tony, I believe in you.
I do believe in you. He said, I, I loved the music that you write you. I love your voice. He said, and no, no one pushed harder for you, you know, than I did. He said, well, let me tie, some of you want me to feel sorry for you, because maybe you didn’t get the gig because of the color of your skin. And I’m not saying that’s true.
He said, I will shed no tears for you and my friend. He said, because if you want me to do you want me to start real and off. Every artist who, you know, every white artist took their music and they never got paid a penny. He said, so he said, as someone who really respects and loves your music, I wish you would’ve gotten a deal.
But he said, as a, as a black man, if you want me to feel sorry, because maybe, maybe to maybe there was a little bit of, well, you know. Maybe they’ll give it to the Italian kid if there’s a choice to give it to someone else. He said that my friend, I’ll never feel sorry for. He said, because that doesn’t feel good, does it?
He said, now, I honestly don’t think. I think everyone should just be, be given what they see, but the world doesn’t work that way, Tony. He said, and I was young, you know, and I was angry. And I’m like, well, then use, it doesn’t mean that, you know, and I just, I was clueless to, you know, to the world itself. And I quit.
And, um, I’m, um, I’m still friends with Greg. He’s a wonderful human being. And, um, he wanted me to continue to write, and I thought, well, maybe it’s the writing. And he had suggested that maybe I write some of the songs for. Miles Jay, who is sounded just like Teddy Pendergrass back then and um,
miles wasn’t, you know, wasn’t too thrilled with the idea because, you know, he was a writer and it’s like, man, I need this kid to come and write music for me. I mean, he was a musician. So you don’t want someone else to come in and write. If you’re right. Brand new, raw material, and then I got really discouraged with it and I kind of dropped off the face of the earth when it came to me is exciting.
I really stopped for all the, you know, all the wrong reasons, but you know, here’s what I say, and I really believe this with every fiber of my being. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. So it’s just another example of, and again, it’s, it’s how do you deal with things in life. I could have turned around and been bitter and been like, you know, this is bull and I’m not gonna.
Yeah. But I didn’t, you know, I, it was an opportunity for me to understand the world better, was an opportunity for me to be a better version of me. And I did, I tried, and I’ve still made a boatload of mistakes. And then. You know, I had this Italian restaurant that I opened and I never worked it and it failed and I was lazy and didn’t want to do it.
I liked food, but it didn’t really want to work. I just wanted to make money, you know? And you know, I went home, I don’t candy coat anything. So, you know, I, I was arrogant and lazy and egotistical and self centered. And, um, I had kids and I, I, I definitely did not think I was a good father. I wasn’t, I was too wrapped up in my own self selfishness.
And, um, I thought I was doing the right thing. You know, I was raised that, you know, a man goes out and makes money. That’s what it would a man does. He makes money. And you know, dude, you have to do, you make money and you don’t worry about the kids. You let your wife raise the kids, you know, that antiquated, you know, whole idea.
And that’s what I thought. I’m like, man, I’m not doing anything wrong. I mean, I’m, I’m doing my thing. I’m doing what a man’s supposed to go out there and make money. My wife’s supposed to raise the kids and. Which is a horrific regret that I have to this day. I never saw him, my children take their first steps.
I never went to a baseball game. I never, because I was too busy, you know, trying to make money because that’s what a man does. And, and I, I, I, you know, I say I regret it, but it’s kinda, it’s, it’s kinda two phase. In one hand I say I regret it, but on the other hand, I do realize. That regret is a completely wasted emotion.
I can’t do anything to change it. So sitting here regretting it does nothing but make me sad and accomplishes absolutely nothing. But I would be lying to you if I didn’t say. There’s plenty of times that I think back on those days and I regret that I didn’t, you know, I didn’t do that. And, um, and then Tony, Luke’s.
You know, my father had come to me and he said, look, I, you know, I really want to do something with the family and I found this property on Oregon Avenue and, um, well let’s build, you know, we’ll make sandwiches. And he was already in the lunch truck business and he used to make roast beef and roast pork for families and they loved it.
And I said, all right, let you know, let’s do it. And then we literally literally built it from the ground up and my father didn’t. Yup. 95% of the building. I just got in the way. Me and my brother kind of got in the way because I have no skills other than cooking and music. I mean, other than, you know, films.
But when, you know, I can’t take a light bulb out without looking at directions, I mechanically inclined, no, no, never. But you know what? I was good at cement work and I’m just starting to think that, you know what, if you’re a Titan DNA, just had you just born, you’re born knowing how to do some at work. If you’re Italian.
I believe that, like I took to it like a fish to water. I’m like, Oh, I could do this. This is good. You know, this is some kind of DNA shit going on. And, and, um, you know, and then my father. He worked so hard that it was a summer day and, um, he was nonstop working anyway. He put everything he had into it and,
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:55:12] right.
Because you guys, just quick sidebar. He sides with basically, yeah. He sold his business and it was essentially you were bootstrapping, which is the modern hashtag now, but you guys were doing it back then. You’re basically using all the money you had to put into building. Correct. What is now Tony Luke’s.
Correct. And then it would have to stop when the cash ran out for your dad would just go
Tony Luke, Jr.: [00:55:35] work another job, make some money, and come back. And he w you know, and, and then I heard him faintly call my name and he was on the floor behind the building and I had rushed him to the hospital and his blood pressure was so high that he was, you know, moments away from a stroke.
And then everything held up until he got back. And then we did it. And I remember we had finished, and it was the night before we were going to open. And I, you know, I looked at him, I was like, yeah, we did this. And there was like, I don’t know, like $1,500 left in the, in the register or a bank. And I remember he said to me, he said, um, how old was he?
He was, he was born in 1939 he opened up in 92 so he’s 50 51 what was a 51. I’m horrible with numbers. Truly 53 53 and I was a 30 right. And I remember him saying to me, this has to work. I’m 50 yeah, it was 53 years old and I’m tired and I don’t know if I have another one in me. This has to work. And we never looked back.
And you know, he worked incredibly hard. Like I remember my whole life, all he did was, was work. And he just worked and worked and worked and worked. And I was never a big fan of, you know, physical labor. I like music. I liked the arts, I liked. So we kind of always clashed because I, I don’t think I was really.
You know, I guess he wanted the construction worker son. And I was the musician and the singer. Right. You know, in the artists. And my brother was very much like my dad. So they always got along. And I, you know, I was a painter as a bad kid. Like I, you know, I never took any, any crap. I, I was a very fat kid when I was younger, and I got picked up, picked on all the time.
And, but here’s what’s amazing. Again, the way you look at a situation. So relentlessly teased because how heavy I was, and then I thought, okay, how do I get them to stop laughing at me and laugh with me? So I kinda became the class clown. But then because I was so heavy, women didn’t really find me attractive.
So I had to learn how to speak to women. And get them to see the inside me, not the outside me and believe it or not, later on in life, it really helped my communication skills with people because I was forced to learn how to speak to someone, to get them to understand and look beyond my physical appearance.
And. I did, and you know, I’m not, you know, I’m completely against bullying, but I look back at that time and I think, I don’t think I would, would be the, the communicator that I became if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was almost forced to learn, to communicate, to talk my way out of getting, getting picked on or talk my way out of getting bullied.
And then one day. Um, I was at a friend’s house complaining about being heavy, and he said, do you ever do meth now? I was like, now not doing, I’m not shooting the needle. I’m that. Yeah. He’s like, nah, you don’t gotta shoot it up, man. He’s like, you can just snort it like I’m not snorting. He goes, look, see if you like it first.
And I’ll never forget. He opened up a bottle of seven up. Well, there was no twist. He opened up a bottle and he poured. A little bit of crank in the in the cap, and he poured a little bit of seven up in it and he said, just drink it. And I was like, he’s going to help me lose weight. He’s like, yeah, I’ll help you lose weight.
And then I drank it and we stayed around for a little bit. Then I start walking back, you know, through the neighborhood and it hit me. And it was like, Oh my God, Oh my God, where did this energy come from? OMA, you know? And, um, they’re like, you’re hungry. I’m like, no, no. You know? And I literally got hooked on doing it, and I have melted away too, because I never ate.
I never slept and never ate. I mean, never realizing that it was destroying my, my whole side. That’s why I have troubled today. Even singing. Because I burnt out my entire sinus cavities. You wear your teeth down and it’s bad. It’s bad drought. And, but I had originally done it to lose the weight and you know, it grabbed me.
Now you notice I didn’t say that I became an addict because I wasn’t an addict. Um, there’s a difference between someone with a drug problem. And someone who suffers from addiction. Uh, I was getting high. Those who suffer from addiction self-medicate there is a huge difference. Huge. Huge. So when I almost overdosed, um, I stopped because I wasn’t medicating.
An issue. I wasn’t medicating a mental health issue. I wasn’t medicating a trauma, a physical, or an emotional trauma or sexual trauma. I just liked it. So when it started to affect my life where I could die, I just stopped. And then when my son was struggling with addiction, I couldn’t understand why.
Couldn’t just stop because I didn’t, I didn’t understand addiction. Yeah, I know. I’m all over the place.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:01:52] No, no, that’s okay. And that’s part of the message that you tried to deliver today is that there’s a huge stigma associated with people who have essentially what equates to a mental disability.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [01:02:04] Well, it’s trauma and mental health.
They love to give it a name. And this is my argument. They go, well, it’s addiction and it’s a substance. Um. Was probably like, whatever, you know, and I’m like, it doesn’t need a name. It has a name. It’s bipolar, it’s schizophrenia, it’s manic depressive illness. It’s physical trauma. It’s mental trauma and emotional trauma.
It’s sad. You don’t have to give it another name. Right. It has a ton of names already, so let’s treat. The cause of the self-medicating, you know, they think that, okay, well you got to rehab and then you abstain, and then you just need to make better choices. And I think that. That is such a horrific thing to do to people that are suffering, because you literally set them up to fail every single time.
You don’t tell somebody who’s got cancer and you go, Hey, look, you got a tumor. It’s cancer. Take some aspirins and try not to eat food that causes cancer. You know? It’s just the most ridiculous thing in the world. But what I love is. People are getting it now. You know, recovery centers are adding the mental health component.
You know, I, I made the statement and it is a true statement and I will stick by it no matter who believes in it or don’t believe in it. Heroin took my son’s life, but it is the stigma that killed him. That was the thing that it took all his hope away. He felt like he was worthless. He felt like everyone would be better off if he died.
And he was so incredibly wrong. And the world just looked at him with disdain and they thought he was weak and they thought he was someone that should just get, they could get rid of, like the society doesn’t need him. And you know, I, when I go and I speak, I just try to make people understand that, learn about addiction, learn, you know, and, and here’s the other thing too.
I, you know, I hear people. You know, really come down heavy on, on millennials and, and look, Hey, there’s always some truth in everything. But the truth is, when I was a kid, there was no internet. There was no Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Google. When I was a kid and someone bullied me, I got bullied by, you know, 10 kids in class, you know, now these kids are.
You know, they’re being bullied by a thousand kids online, and who’s re tweeting and, and then, you know, and who’s sharing, and you know, who’s doing this. And the other thing too, is I didn’t know what was going on in China or Russia or Ireland. I knew what was going on in South Philly. Nobody knew. These kids are growing up in an age where information is immediately accessible to them.
So they’re dealing with, Oh my God, there’s people being killed here. Oh my God. I didn’t have mass shootings when I was a kid in high schools, so. I get it. Like people of my generation are like, well, they need to toughen up. Just toughen up. And I look, I, you know, I get that trend of thinking, I get it, but what I try to explain to people that are my age or older is, I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think you understand the massive amount of energy.
I mean the information that these kids are getting them are bombarded with every single day, way more than what you had to deal with or I had to deal with. So do I think that people do need to look at life and be, you know, say, Hey, look. I got to try to get through this. I want to get through it. I, you know, I don’t want to see people run away in a corner and give up.
I believe that people should fight, try to fight through, but on the same token, when we’re talking mental health, illness, a mental illness, autism, these are things that people need real help with. These are not things that you go, Hey, toughen up. Learn it, get better, and then get out the door and duty. That doesn’t work.
It’s, it’s different and you have to understand that it is different. And again, it goes back to what I said, it goes back to growth. If I still thought the way I thought when I was 30 at, you know, 58. You know, what, what, what did I learn? Like what was my, what was my existence even for? And I, you know, I think that people need to be, you know, a little understanding on what the kids today have to deal with.
Now, again, now again, this is not popular, I want to say, but the truth is there are some things where people need to be like, Hey, you can’t do that. Well, I went, mom, you can’t do it. Well, that’s not my feeling. Well, I don’t need to know you feeling you’re eight. I don’t care. I care what you feel. You’re eight years old.
You don’t really know what you feel. Well, he doesn’t want to do this, and he doesn’t want to do that because he doesn’t feel like doing that today. He’s got to go to school, get up, get dressed, put shoes on, go to school. I don’t care. You don’t feel you’re having a debt night. You know what I mean? In certain instances it’s like, you know, he had to go to school, go to school.
You know? So in that aspect, I do believe that, but now that doesn’t apply to someone who’s having mental issues or is on the spectrum who definitely needs care and needs understanding and needs patients. I’m not saying that, but there’s a lot of kids that I look at and I’m looking, I’m like. Yeah. I don’t say it, but in my mind I’m like, you’re kids running around kicking everything, but he’s kicking everything.
You’re sitting there and you didn’t want say, don’t care. Or I hear someone go, Oh, well that’s what he wants to do, and I, we shouldn’t. Louise should let them feel their feelings. No, he’s kicking shit. Tell him to stop.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:07:57] Well said. I agree. I agree completely. And I won’t kick anything in here. I promise.
So, but first of all, thank you so much for sharing that message and for sharing your, your very personal and, um, and, and a tough experience for you. Um, so today you, you. Reiterate that message. You go out and you speak to try to reduce this stigma around mental health issues and addiction.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [01:08:26] And I’ll tell you why.
I will not mention any names. Sure. Because it’s not right to mention any names, but I remember the name and I’ll never forget it. Mmm. I had an issue with my father and my brother got really bad. And, um. It kind of brought me to the brink of bankruptcy and, um, it was ugly. And I just want to say right off the bat, I love my father and my brother.
I always have, and I always will. And I, I, with every fiber of my being, I wish that, you know, we, we could, you know, come together. Um, but at the time, you know, Tony was out of a job and I. Wasn’t able to help him. And he had no health insurance and I was unable to help him because I had no insurance and things really bad for me.
I mean, really, really bad, like the lowest it had ever been financially. And, um, I said to him, Tony, you know, go out. I’ll help you, like apply for a job. And, um. You’ll see, you’ll get a job. Know I’m not really, I’m like, Tony, you, you’re really good at designing kitchens and you’ve been in the food business with me forever.
It’s like you just have to have faith that you can do it. And I said, I know you can apply. No, dad, I can’t. We struggled with addiction prior, so he had come back to rehab and he truly was probably 18 months in recovery. Notice I never used the term. 18 months clean because clean donates. He was dirty and he wasn’t dirty.
He was ill and he was, he was in recovery for about 18 months and he was really trying, like really try and cause an application. He gets an interview for a place in Philadelphia. Mmm. A restaurant that has is opening up branches. And he’s like, they, they offered me a job and I’m going to go for training.
Now remember, here’s a kid with, you know, very low self esteem, who the world looked at for a very long time. As a piece of shit that just should die. And um, so he’s overexcited so he goes in his training and then he would literally come over, go, da da da. You know, that’s a 35 year old man, that da, look at this, look, read that email, read that email.
And it was just like, eh, you know, Anthony, you exemplary today. You know you’re worth that, your work ethic. And I said, Tony, I told him, and then, you know, a week later, and it’d be like, and then he comes over to me about a month into the training, and he said, dad, look at this email. And it said, Anthony, we would like to start you running our new location because you’re a perfect fit.
And you know, every, and, and he. He for the first time in a very long time, there was life in his eyes again, there was there. And um, and then he said, I remember the week went by and he’s like, first date, I said, look, call me. Let me know your first day went, I’m so proud of you Tony. I told you, cause he said, my pants will never leave me, dad.
And I said, no, it will Tony, it will you make. You make new inroads and you, you live your life and it’ll, it’ll, it’ll find a place in the past. And you know, you move forward, believe in you. And I believe in you. And, and, um, and then the first day at work, about an hour, and he called me up crying and I said, Oh my God, Tony, what happened?
First thing, I thought something. And he goes, I got fired. Like, we mean, he got fired. He’s like, dad, I came in and there was the guy there and he said to me that he didn’t think that I was up to the job and that it was a mistake. And I’m like, well, what? What? What do you mean mistake? I read, you know, I read the email, I have the email.
He goes, I know I, I told him, I said, did you look at him? Did you look at my report? And then he goes, yeah, we just don’t think you’re a good fit for the company. And he was destroyed. And I went online and I Googled his real name, which they never did. And about six months pro, no, no, no. 18 he was in recovery for about 18 months, so almost two years prior, he had walked into a Walmart, put on a Walmart, vast, took a TV and he walked it out and he got caught.
And in Jersey, if you’re an addict or you committed a crime, they us your picture and your name and said, you know, I was dealing with drug issues and the RA, you know, went to Robert TV and I guess they couldn’t say, Hey, we Googled you and you’re fine. You know, cause there was no, I mean I’m not saying it cause he’s my son.
Literally, I was the hardest on him of all. I read every single email and it wasn’t like that traditionally center. I mean, it was very personal to him and he died again. His eyes died, and I, I had, I didn’t know what to say to him. Like I just, I saw him just completely, all the life come out of him. And he said to me, I told you that it’ll never leave me.
My parents will never leave me. And I said, no. W w we’re going to get shell a job. And Geno Vento, who owns Geno’s steaks, who is like a brother to me. Um, he said, Tony, I’ll, I’ll take them. Only problem is the only spot I have open is night. I’m like, well, anything you can give him Chino. And Gino took him in because my son had two daughters and, and, and a wife.
And, um, it was about two o’clock in the morning and I was still up and he was working night shift and I just wanted to go and say hi to him. And I drove Gina’s like, there’s a point there. And he was, um. He’s taking that gets a cigarette break and he didn’t see me and I, I looked at his face and he had died already.
And I remember saying, in the car, father, please help him because I can’t. And an opportunity came up to take over one of the franchises. And we were fighting to get the company back after the lawsuit. Horrible. And, um, and I, you know, I talked to my partner, can we get this? It’s a chance for Tony. And, and he came and we, you know, we cleaned the place up and we worked and we had this big opening and gave out like a thousand cheese taken.
He worked at grow. He really was amazing on the grill. And it was a Sunday night. And he said to me, Hey dad, he’s like, I fucked up a lot, yo. Well, Tony wa, you know, tomorrow’s always another day. And he said, I have to make it up to my girls and my work, like I have to, I have to, I have to make it up to them.
I’m going to make it up to time. I want to make it up to them. And I said, no, Tony, we’re going to do this. And he goes, you really think I’m going to be okay? That like, do you really think I want to be okay? And I’m like, Tony. Cause at this point I had really understood addiction. And I got it. And I said, I’m with you, Tony, Tony, I’m with you.
And he was mopping the floor and he was on medication for depression, but he had no health insurance. So he couldn’t get the medication. And I remember that night I said to him, Tony, you already goes, my back, I’m on. I said, Tony, here’s the deal. I don’t care if I got a steal. Something, I am going to find the money to get you health insurance.
I’m going to find them out and I’m going to do it because you have to get your medication like I can’t. And he’s like, thanks dad. And I, I’ll do, I don’t care. I won’t eat. Literally at that point, I’m like, whatever you want to do. Cause when my father fired everyone from that store, he caught everyone’s benefit.
So he had nothing. And um. So I said, why don’t you go home? I’ll finish. And I hugged him and I kissed him. And then it was Monday and it was about eight 30 in the morning. And I thought, I want to call him and just tell him, you know how proud I am of him going, getting through everything that he did, like just so proud.
And I knew he was in tremendous amount of pain cause he literally couldn’t even walk out the door. He literally could not walk out the door. His back was so horrific. And I remember saying to him, Tony, remember, just take a bunch of Motrin, you’ll be okay. Take motion and get some rest. And we don’t open again until Tuesday, so you have a day off.
And um, I said, you know what, I’m not going to call him because he worked so late last night and his back was let him sleep. And then the day got past me, obviously, and I had to do signings for citizens bank park for the Tony Luke’s opening up for baseball season. And it was like down in the basement and I took an Uber over is where it would, you remember?
And I was giving out sandwiches and taking pictures with people. And Alex Holly from Fox 29 was just start, I guess, just, you know, starting in. And she came over to say hi and. I’d introduce myself and you know, give her a cheese steak. And I was like, look, we’ve got to get more. And we got to bring them out.
And my phone rang and I saw as my son Michael, and I’m thinking, let me get this. And I pick up the phone and I heard him go that, that, that, that, that I’m like, Michael was, Oh, he’s crying like he was mad at. And he’s like, all I hear is it’s breaking up. And I hear debt debt is what I hear. So now. I panicked cause I have no signal and I run up the steps to go to the outside and my phone drops and hits every step on the way down.
Now I’m in panic mode. Cause did my phone just break and I remember grabbing the phone and I ran upstairs like in a movie and I burst the doors open from whatever and I was or side of citizens bank park. I said, Michael, he goes, dad. And I’m like, Michael, what is it? What’s the matter? And he said, Stacy called Tony’s debt.
And it was my worst fear come to life. And, uh, I remember falling. And I remember it wasn’t even the screen, it was something from like deep inside your stomach. And I remember I had to get home and I was calling everyone. I was calling my girl, no one was answering the phone. No one was editing. And I’m like somebody to call me back.
So I, I have to get home, I have to get a, to see my son, I have to get, and I’m like, now I don’t know where I am. I’m out some door and I just hit Uber. I just hit, come and get me not knowing where it is. And my girl finally calls me and I tell her what happened. She freaks out. I’m coming to your place. And then I remember this, it was a minivan.
And I got into the back of the minivan and I crawled onto the floor and I just kept saying, God, no, please God. No, please God. No, no, please God, please God no, please. And then what I remember most is we got back here, and I remember him picking me up off the floor and hugging me. Just literally just hugging me.
And then my girl was there and I, I said, we have to go to my son’s house. And it was surreal. And I, I got to the house, there were cops everywhere and they wouldn’t let me inside the house cause he had, he had died in the bathroom. And, um. My partner came and my friend John came and that people were coming and I just, I didn’t know, like you’re just in the fog.
And, and then my ex wife pulled up with my son, Mike was my son Joey. And I remember she got out and she said, where’s my son? And I said, you, he’s now alright. I gotta go in. I’m like, no, you can’t go in. And she said, no, no, no. You don’t understand. I’m his mother. I’m, I’m gonna, I’m gonna wake him up. I’ll wake him up.
And I’m like, you can’t wake him up. He’s called and she just fainted. And, um, she was freaking out. And I remember telling my partner, I said. I can watch them come out of the house. I can’t see him in a bag. I said, so I’ll turn away. I don’t want to look at the ambulance, take them away. So I turned and they came out and they put him in the ambulance and they were driving away and my girl said, don’t look, don’t look.
And then as I turned to look, it was the back of the ambulance. And I knew that. Yeah. And then I, I, I, I came home and, um, I usually can’t sleep and you just want to die. And I remember going through the lawsuit and just all the problems I had with my dad, cause I w w I worshiped the ground, he walked on and it was very difficult for me.
And I remember looking at my girlfriend, Maria, and she was on the couch and I said, Maria, I’m strong, but God is beating me down like life is beating me, God, life is, it’s punching me nonstop. The law should have no money. I’m like, and I, and I said to her, and I tell her this, and she gets upset. She goes, I’m sorry.
I said, and I’m like, you didn’t know you were like, Maria, you had no idea. And I said. I’m strong bun, my knees are buckling. I don’t know how much more I can take. And she said, God’s preparing you for something bad. And then Tony died and it felt like someone took a baseball bat and then just beat the living piss out of me.
What a bat. And I remember, I remember going to the funeral home, hearing the words that I, yeah, it’s, can you come with me now and pick out a coffin? And I remember Maria was with me and my ex wife was there. And I remember saying, look, coffin, do you think he would lie? Like, I don’t know what he would like.
And um, we did that and I was trying to keep it together, but the hardest thing I ever had to do ever, and it’s the hardest thing I know I ever will have to do was when is the funeral? The weight came in, the funeral came in and the field director said, okay, we need pallbearers. And I said, well, I want to carry.
And he’s like, Oh, no, no, no, no. Parent pair, King carry a child to the grave. He can’t. He didn’t do that. And I remember saying, I’m carrying my son. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do because the truth is, when your child dies, you die. Took a couple of weeks for, I can go back to the store and, um. I know an elderly gentleman came in and he said, Tony, I’m really sorry about your son.
And I said, thank you. So do you mind if I asked how he died? And I said, he died from a heroin overdose, and he got very angry. And he was like, see what these kids do? And they break our hearts. And I remember not being angry at him, but for the first time I saw through the eyes of my son. The way people looked at him and how they felt about him.
And I thought, um, I thought that’s what God wants me to do. Heroin took his life, but the stigma killed them. That’s what I need to do. And I remember just telling my story and then I was bad. I was spiraling. Really spiraling. And then a friend of mine brought over keyboard and they said, why don’t you play again?
And I’m like, I don’t want to play music. I don’t want to, I don’t want to breathe. I don’t want to eat. I don’t want to look at anyone. I just want to die now. And he said, well, music was always therefore for you. You should try. I’ll just leave it. And he left it out and let me, anyone who’s listening, let me just educate you on this.
Okay? If someone you know, loses a child, tell them that you are sorry for their loss and then shut up. Because there is nothing that you can say that will even remotely make them feel better. Do not say to them that, well, we have to be strong. Don’t say to them, God does everything for a reason. Don’t say to them, Oh, they’re in a better place now.
Don’t say to them in time, things will get better. Tell them that you are sorry for their loss. Tell them that there’s anything that you can do to help them. You will and shot your math. I came in the room one day and I just start banging the keys. And I had realized that in all the years that I was doing music and writing music, I never knew what the hell I was doing.
Like I would just play the keys. That sounded good. And then I would get a keyboard player to come in and go, here’s the song. And I would literally write a song like I’d go, Dan, she wants to be with me. Dan, and you know that’s Dan, cause I love her. So Dan, like that, literally, that’s how I wrote every song I had ever written.
And then the keyboard player would come in and be like, yeah, like this is okay. It’s in the key of C. I dunno what that key is. All right, good. It’s in the case. So when I came back, um, I sat in the room and I said, you need to learn. How to play. And I, I, I’m plugging someone, but I’m just telling the truth.
Uh, so I joined something called, um, playground sessions, which is an amazing tool to learn how to play piano. And I literally locked myself in this room because I just wanted to die. So this was the only thing keeping me from walking off the balcony. And. I started to learn what courts were in court progressions and what minor courts were and what suspended courts were, and diminished chords and augmented chords, you know, and I started to learn what the scales were and the fingering that you need at night.
Just I engrossed myself in it. And I want, you know, I would get up in the morning at like 6:00 AM because I can’t, couldn’t sleep sometimes four in the morning and I’d play and I’d play. And then I’d fall asleep at the keyboard at three o’clock. And then I did this month after month after month, if the month, if the month, if the month.
And then, um, I said, I want to do something with the music. And Bob Dylan’s song make you feel my love. Was something I’d wanted to say to my son that I never said to him while he was alive. And I had this idea of a video and I called a friend of mine, Bob swing, and I said, Hey, do you want to come? And film is video.
I have this idea of a father in a warehouse with a piano and he’s singing to his son a picture of his son. To tell him how he feels. But instead of concentrating on me singing, I want to bring real people in that have lost their children, or a spouse or a father or mother or someone to addiction. And they also want people that have been in recovery and they’re, they’re in the fight.
They’re in the battle. And I want people to know that these are real people. They’re human beings. They’re not numbers. Do not statistics. And I went and I cut it in. The funny thing is I had only been playing piano for like two months. So, you know, I kept, Tom don’t cut to my hands because they’re probably going to make a thousand mistakes, you know, on the keyboard.
You know, I’m actually playing the bass, you know, with my left hand with like my thumb and one like, it was completely ridiculous. And, uh, the song was actually recorded. Like the instruments were played by a really good friend of mine, Dan Morrow. Is bright musician and he actually produced the track and, and then I laid the vocals down and then we did this video and it just got an incredible amount of attention because he’s a real people.
And then Dana came and did it behind the scenes. So if you go on YouTube and you type in, make you feel my love, Tony Luke jr, you’ll see the, they’ll say official video, and then you’ll see something that says behind the scenes interview for the making of. It’s like six minutes long or it’s really something you should watch.
Yeah. Her company did an amazing job and her name is on there, so you can see who it is daba doll for DOD to something like that. And I realized that it had struck us real court. A woman said to me, I don’t know what it feels like. I couldn’t even imagine what it feels like to lose a child. And I was laying in bed and I said, what does it feel like.
And I came in to the studio, I started the play, and I wrote a song called broken. And then the song, I tried to tell you what it feels like for me to have lost a child. I’ve never recorded it because it’s very sad and you know, I don’t want people to be more sad and that, but I wrote it and. I realized that music was, was the key.
I mean, the universe is made up of vibrations and harmonics, and that’s music is vibrations. And I called an old friend of mine, Joe Niccolo, uh, Joe, the butcher, Niccolo, who used to own rough house records, who is a nine time Grammy winner, probably one of the most incredible producers who was responsible.
For so many incredible acts. And I got to touch a little Facebook cause I lost his number 30 years ago. And I said, Hey, it’s Tony Luke. Um, you know, I’ve been writing some music that I think could help people, you know, and, um, would you take a listen? Maybe there’s something you know, we can do. And he got back to me and he was like, uh, I’ll, what’s yoursel like in phase?
I sent him my cell number. And I’ll never forget, I break him for him till today. So he goes at Tony, he goes, see you’re writing, you’re writing songs in here. I’m like, said, listen, you know, I’m, I’m old school and I’m direct, so what do you mean? He goes, well, you know, lot of people say that they’re songwriters, but the truth is they’re not.
So I don’t want to lay you down. If you want to send me a song, I’ll be happy to listen to it, but know that, you know. Fit sucks. Good Italian socks. And maybe songwriting is not your thing. Some thinking in my head. Well, that’s strange. I would say that because it works with music with him daily for 30 years ago.
Like always. Okay. Maybe he hated my step back then. I dunno. So I sent him this dolphin and he calls me back. He’s like, this is really good. Like, I want to work. I want to work with you. I’m like, okay, go in the studio and we start working on material. I wrote a song called walkaway with Joe Colari friend of mine, and I literally walk in the second day, this dude, and he goes, you’re Tony Lusa Donio.
And I go, yeah, I know. He goes, I don’t know why I didn’t click Tony Luke. I’m thinking, Tony, Luke. We know he’s telling her. I was like, yeah, Joe. I was waiting for when your brain catch up to the fact that you knew me for 30 fricking years and that we worked on music. Yeah. Yeah. I never put Tony, Luke and Tony Lusa Donio together.
It was really funny and he said to me, I got an idea. I’d love to work with you on something liquid. Is it? He says, let’s do something with music to really make a difference. I said, I’m down, what do you want to do? And he said, let’s get all my connections in your connections and let’s create this, which I’m wearing today, which is the, excuse me, the sound mind network.
So we created that. Me, Joe Niccolo, and Joseph the Giacomo, who’s our finance guy, and Joe start calling people and I want to give. A huge major shout out. Two, two amazing people. The break the bacon brothers, we’re absolutely incredible. And Michael and Kevin bacon said, wherein, how can we help? Blah. Wherein they came to the studio, they recorded one track.
Now they called off, they want to do another track. For the album. Uh, Cyndi Lauper’s people’s been unbelievable. We have a remixed that we did from Billy Joel, and in all of a sudden, all of these artists started coming on board going, okay, how can we help? What do we do? We know we need to, you know, get this in people’s faces.
So right now. And we’re putting together, we’re going to every, you know, artists that we know and, um, where we’re going in Joe’s studio, we’re either cutting a new song of if they want to do that, or if we want to do a remix of an old song that they haven’t in all of the proceeds. And I mean, all of the proceeds other than whatever the expenses are, you know, the artist’s expense is, uh, goes towards the sound, my network and what the sound, my network is.
Is we are an artistic based foundation that helps educate people about mental health and addiction and about, you know, what kids go through and all these things through music, through art, through writing, you know, through producing all of these, these genres. We bring them together and then we’re, we’re hoping to do is once we’re going to be releasing like four or five songs at a time.
And. You know, getting, getting the momentum we need. And then all the money we make will go towards sponsoring documentaries, go towards putting more music out, you know, billboards to combat the decades and decades of negativity and stereotype of addiction. We want to flood social media and do this. Now.
Prior to that, I did something called hashtag Brown and white, which was the two primary colors of heroin. And it was pretty amazing what I wanted. It amazing in the fact that how it caught on, not that it was amazing that I thought of it just amazing that it caught on. And what I was trying to do is get people to post pictures of their loved ones who had passed from an overdose and not be ashamed the post their picture and tell them who they were.
And, and that you love them, and that they weren’t, you know, worthless. And they were very strong and they weren’t weak. And people started to post. All these pictures were going up. This woman Tony had passed away and her family. Had kind of championed, you know, the hashtag Brown and white. And she made these beautiful like Brown and white ribbons and Palm palms kind of things in her street had, was filled with all of these and honors her daughter and everyone that had died from an, from an overdose.
And it just kind of led to where we are now. And then, God, I’m a big believer in God. You know, I, you know, I’m in, God has been putting people in my life. That that are, you know, musically we’re coming together, we’re writing, we’re running music now, not to write hit, right? We’re writing music that affects people.
These are songs that give people hope and tell stories of pain and just music. I feel like I kept thinking, I kept blaming God when I was younger. You know, why? Why would you give me a gift and not allow me to use it? What I didn’t realize was. It was never meant for me to use for that. It was meant for me to use for this.
And when I got to a point where my music was being created, not for me, even though it gives me great a comfort, but the music that I write and the amazing writers that I work with, and, and, and, and Joe, Nickelodeon, um, Joseph , John, all these people came together. And, uh, Dean Smith and who had come and helped me with all this equipment and this is God’s work.
And I tell people, this is one time I am super confident because God doesn’t feel, we feel and I am not the same person I was. 10 years ago. I’m not the same person I was five years ago. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I, you know, I had a huge ego and was very self centered and selfish and in some way I’m glad that life humbled me in life, showed me what really was important, what really life was truly.
About and I am forever grateful that I got a second chance to be a better version of what God created me to be. And for that, I am internally grateful. I miss my son every day. I always will. Here’s another myth I’d like to clear up. I do not believe that. One grief is greater than another. So I want to preface what I’m about to say by saying, grief is grief.
Okay? Here’s the different STO with losing a child. People go, losing a child is the worst conceivable thing anyone can think of, and then we wonder, well, why would they say that? Because when you, you love a spouse or you love your mom and you love your dad, that pain is horrific. It’s real. That grief is real.
Why would someone else’s grief be worse than your grief? It’s, it’s, it’s not a matter of one grief being worse than the other. Here’s the problem. When we’re a child, we are always taught from children. My mom and pop, pop aren’t always going to be here. We’re going to lose them. Brothers, sisters, you have to learn to support each other.
Cause one day mommy and daddy aren’t going to be here. And then we’re told. We need to put money away and we need to have a, you know, a retirement money. Cause one day one of the spouses are going to die before the other. And you know, you need to be able to take care of that. Your answer going to die. No one, no one ever says growing up.
Oh, and by the way, your child could die. No one says it. So there’s no place for the brain to put it. We expect that people that we love are going to pass away. Not our children, our aunts, our uncles, our grandparents, our parents, our spouses, our siblings. Yeah, we do. It’s a horrible grief, but we know that’s life.
That’s what happens. No one says, Oh, and by the way, be prepared to carry your child to a hole and put them in the ground. So the brain has nowhere to put it. And I struggled with this and I struggled with it. So that’s why I say to people aren’t just understand this. Don’t assume that 20 years later, the person that lost a child is fine.
My grandmother, I loved her with every fiber of my being. When she died, it was one of the worst blows I had ever experienced in my life. I think of her every day. I miss her, but I smile. It’s my grandmother. She was crazy. Let’s, my son should not be my memory. I should be his memory. So don’t go and say, Oh, well, it’s been five years.
I’m sure you’re okay now. No, I’m not. And known. Assume it. No, that it’s different. I think I’m a, I’m a much better father to my two children now cause I get it. I’m a better ex husband, ex husband, I’m a better boyfriend. I try to be a better human being to my friends and, and it took 50 something years for me to understand.
What really is important. Your car, sorry, you drive a Bentley. I don’t care. You know what have you done for someone? You know you got $25 million in the bank. Great. What have you done? Did you give $1 million away to charity? Cause you needed a tax write off? Well he didn’t do anything, you know, to give somebody $10 cause you got 10,000 in your pocket want.
It’s nice. It’s nice, but it’s when you only got $10 in your pocket and you give it to someone to eat and you leave with that, then you’ve done something. So cause when you die, the battery doesn’t go with you. The bank count doesn’t go with you. None of that goes, you know, it goes with you. What did you do in your life to make some kind of difference was your entire existence about you and all that you can get and all the money that you can make.
Or was it about, I’d like to make more money because there’s more things I can do with that money. So again, and I’m not preaching like I’m, you know, like, Oh, no one should have. I, that’s not what I’m saying. Uh, you work hard, you deserve things you deserve. But understand. That the eggs, your existence is not built upon making tons of money, eating the best food, driving the best cars, and living in the biggest home.
Your existence is what can you do? A kid asked me, explain to me why we’re here now, but explain to me existence and I thought about it.
Positive and negative realms. You need to think of yourself as a battery. Okay? So what are you supposed to do? You try to be a battery energized with positivity. And they looked at me and I said, but I’m not done. Being a positive battery is not enough. What do you need to try to do is take that positive battery and in some way try to connect with someone who has a negative battery and fill their battery with that positive energy.
And I think it’s literally as simple as that. I don’t think it’s more complicated than that, you know, just, okay. Turn someone’s negativity or try into positive, understand it. No matter how bad you have it, no matter what your woes are, I promise you there are people somewhere else that would trade places with you in a heart beat
and always be grateful. Someone said to me, what you don’t. You don’t get disappointed anymore and I don’t, and they were like, how do you not get disappointed? I don’t expect anything. And I believe, again, just me not preaching. I believe that when I want something or I want to do something or I want a position or a job, whatever it is, I want and I work hard and I don’t get it in my mind.
I think. That’s not where God wants me. He wants me somewhere else so I don’t get mad and go, I can’t believe that I worked so hard and I didn’t get it. This world sucks and it’s unfair and it’s hard. I just go, you know what, tone God needs you somewhere else. He’ll tell you where to go. If you listen, just let him drive.
You’d be the passenger and I promise you, you will crash much less. And then everything I get, I am absolutely 1000000000% grateful. Totally unbelievably grateful. I don’t care what it is, so I don’t, I’m not living that will life anymore. You know, my son is right here in the studio a lot. I look at him every day and I wish I was a better father.
And I wish I was the kind of father that he needed, but I wasn’t. But I try every single day to be that father for my other two children and my grandkids. And when I speak, I try to let people understand that, you know what? As much as you think that your child wants that $5,000 computer that you have to work 80 hours a week for.
I can promise you they’d rather have an hour of your time then the computer. So if you have a choice to work an extra 20 hours, because you know you’ve got to get that brand new car, I would say maybe spend five of those hours with your children or the people that you love, because when you debt, the only thing you’re going to remember.
Is those times you’re not going to remember the 85 hours you work. You’re not going to remember the piece of jewelry border, the car that you drove. You’re going to remember the times and the people in your life and the times you spent with them. We all have to work. I’m not saying, you know, and we have to work hard.
I’m just saying we have got to learn to find time for the people that we love. Because if we don’t, you wake up and your life is going by or tomorrow you can wake up and someone that you love more than life itself will not be here.
Build a bit. I know this is a business podcast and we have not talked about business. I apologize that we haven’t, but no,
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:51:13] it’s an important message though. And, and I’m very sorry for your loss of course,
Tony Luke, Jr.: [01:51:18] but do you
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:51:19] think that. A lot of what you’re creating now with sound mind network and what you’re doing now.
There seems to be a bit of a difference. You’re more collaborative. There is no ego. Um, you yourself have said that, you know, it’s not about you anymore. Now it’s about. The mission and the message and, and the achievement of trying to de-stigmatize all of these issues around mental health. And do you think that that may be in part is why you’re finding huge success in your sort of second coming as a musician now?
Tony Luke, Jr.: [01:51:58] I think that, I think that there’s a lot of truth in positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative. I also. Believe that when your agenda is pure, I believe that the universe works with you. You know, look, I, I happen to be a Christian, but I was, I truly do respect every single religion. I respect everyone’s right to believe in what they want to believe in.
I respect everyone’s right. To not believe in God. I can only tell you what I feel. I don’t push it on anyone. I just say, this is my belief and that’s fine, but I do believe that there are certain truths in the universe. I believe energy is real. I believe that positive energy is real. I believe negative energy is Israel as well.
And I do believe like attracts like, and I believe that if you put out a positive message. And people know that it’s coming from a place that’s true. I think that people want to be around other people that are positive, especially when we’re feeling sad and negative and low. And I just think that the more positivity I try to put out, you know, I, I, I told a woman.
At a a S speaking event once and she was crying and I said, are you okay? And she says, I feel horrible for what I’m thinking. And I’m like, okay, what do you, what are you thinking? That’s so horrible? And she said, I heard you speak for an hour. Is it okay? And says, no. I kept thinking about is, I don’t want to be you ever.
And I said, I’m speaking because I don’t want you to be me either. So, so I think those are the things that you, that you truly take with you when you die. It’s like, I really don’t want her to feel what I’m feeling. I had a guy once say at a speaking event and I was speaking, he went, you know, can I say something only?
Yeah. He goes, look, you know, Tony, I’m sorry for your loss and all, but yeah, you’re only here because they pay you. And I went, excuse me? He said, well, you’re here. Like everyone else comes. They speak and you get passed. Let me explain something to you, sir. I have never taken one penny to speak. Do you honestly think that I would capitalize on the death of my child?
I have never taken a penny to speak at a recovery house. I have never taken a penny to speak to parents who have lost a child, and let me tell you something. I’ve been offered great money and there were times I was literally didn’t know how I was paying. The next bill. And people got cheese. Tony, Luke.
Well, let me tell you about fallacy. Bull, you have no concept of what w two the brink that I was brought to that I fight back every day to get there. So whatever, whatever image you think you have of me is wrong. And I still didn’t take the money and I wouldn’t, I would rather be living in a box then except money.
For people who are suffering. I’ll never do it. Matt, a gentleman come to me recently. He goes, would you, would you go to college or businesses and speak about your life? Yeah. Would you be okay if the colleges paid you? Yeah. Speaking about my life. Yeah. It’s like writing a book. Are they suffering from addiction?
Are they people that lost children? Then the answer is no. Then I won’t take any money because I generally don’t want anyone to be in this club. It is the worst club on the planet, and I say every time in his speech, and I’d like to say it now, my son truly believed with every fiber of his being, that if he were dead, everyone that loved him would be better.
Cause that’s how low he thought of himself. And he was wrong. I also believe that there is absolutely no such thing as a lost cause. You’re a lost cause when there’s no more breath in your body. Until then, I hear people speak by my son, Oh yeah, I get it. You hate the disease. Yeah, there’s guidelines like I get it.
I’m not telling everybody, enabling this never is my message, but understand that as long as there’s breath in your body, there is hope. And if you truly wanting to help a loved one who is suffering from addiction, you need to figure out a way. To understand, to find out what is it that they are self-medicating, what is so horrific inside of them that death is better to them than facing that issue.
Don’t give up on them. Don’t.
Just try as much as you can. Look, you’re not God. We can’t wave our hand and make someone well, but we can always be there for them. And that saying we have to give into them or enable them. I dog. I remember telling my son, I love you. You can continue to do or behave the way you’re behaving, but when you want help.
I’m here. You’re hungry, I’ll feed you. I’m not giving you money, any clothes, a gay clothes. I’m not giving you money, but I’m here for you. When you knock on the door and you go, I want help, I will move mountains to get you help. And that’s all I’m saying to people. Don’t close the door on them.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:59:03] It’s a very powerful message and thank you again for sharing all of that with us.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [01:59:09] And I’m very sorry that every single person that listened to your podcast probably turn it off in the first half
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:59:16] and
Tony Luke, Jr.: [01:59:18] whine about his life.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:59:20] Strongly doubt that. But going back, can we go back to Tony Luke’s first
Tony Luke, Jr.: [01:59:24] splits.
Let’s do it. Let’s go real quick.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:59:26] Going back to, to, uh, that was a very powerful message and, and thank you for, for sharing that. And I think it is important because a lot of what you’re doing now is super powerful and it’s really important. But going back to that, that day that you, your father and your brother finally have completed.
The creation of Tony Luke’s of the first one on Oregon F you, you look to your father and you say you, we did it. What was your feeling in that moment?
Tony Luke, Jr.: [01:59:56] Honestly? Yeah. Remember you’re dealing with Tony. Positivity. Tony, I’m like, we’re going to be the biggest cheese. No, we are going to be the biggest sandwich shop in the world and have 150 located and my father’s like, could we open the damn doors first?
You’re such a dreamer. Always dreaming. How about put a little work in instead of dreaming about a hundred stores, here was the change. Here’s what I knew. I knew that we were a sandwich shop in the city of a thousand sandwich shops. Plus people go, Oh, they got the greatest location right now. We didn’t.
When we opened up that place, no one was going down. Trucks were going up and down. No one went to that corner. Zero. It was the old doggy diner like nothing. So I remember calling prison and I convinced my father into letting me do, you know, like, let me let me do my thing. I said, I want to make a commercial so.
I went to prison and I said, I want to do a commercial for cable. And they said, okay, well, they talked to me. Here’s what we’re gonna do. So we’ll come in and we’ll, you know, we’ll take some pictures of you in the ground. Like, Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. We’re, we’re in. When I, when I didn’t show any food being made, and I remember the woman said, w w, what do you mean it?
You have it. It’s a restaurant right. Well, yeah, but we’re not gonna show any food. Well, what are we going to do? Okay, here’s how it works. There’s two convicts and they break out of a chain gang thing because one of them can’t wait for parole. He has to get a Tony Luke sandwich. Then they bring his son in the police cause they get, and she’s like, are you serious?
And I’m like, yeah. And she was like, well, I’m not going to do it. I’m like, well, I didn’t ask you to do it. I’m going to pay you to film it. Well, the director won’t direct it. I’m like, well, I don’t want him to direct it. I’m going to direct it, tell them what I want. And I literally remember fighting with them to take the job.
And they were basically like, this is the most asinine thing. And I did, um, the first Tony Luke commercial, and I knew that it would get two reactions. People would go, that’s really hilarious. Or that guy is the biggest, most giant ass on the planet. But I knew two things. That were important. You would watch it and whether you liked it or you hated it, you be talking about Tony Luke’s and then people go like, what is Tony Lewis?
It’s why, what is it a sandwich? I would it to get them to come and then I did far slew. Which was a play on, um, farce gum. And I did this thing, and I remember, you know, it was an all of these Creighton and I’d go to every radio station in Britain. The whole idea was, I need to get, people are good people here, but, and I always thought out of the box, and then I did the cartoon.
So I wanted to do a cartoon. Of, um, um, double O Luke, which was a secret agent who had these female ninjas as protection and he needed to defeat the evil dr salmonella. And, and he, you know, he was stole the recipe desk. So I go and I call a company up and I go. I’d like to, you know, do a cartoon and they were like, how long?
And I’m like, I don’t know, a minute. We’ll do a minute cartoon. And they were like a hundred thousand. I’m like, Oh wow. Like it’s $100,000 it’s a minute cartoon. You read some stuff and say, do you have any idea how much work goes in to creating animation? And I’m like, why ain’t got a hundred so my mind.
Goes, Hmm, let’s go to the college of art and find an art student. So I go and I find this gentleman named Mike, never forget it. And I said, Mike, I have this idea. And he goes, Oh, this is great. And I’m like, I need a minute, you know, minute commercial, can you do it? Yeah, I can do it like he was a student. I can do, I can do it, I can do it.
I’m like, all right, six months, eight months, a year. Over a year goes by Harry coms. I’m done. You’re done. He said, well, Tony, I had to, I had to do the background and then I to take pictures and I had to do, when school was closed, I couldn’t do it during the class and we did double a Luke and it won like all of these awards for best animated commercial and it got everyone’s attention in the product.
My father and my brother did such an amazing job. And, you know, making the product and, you know, making the greens and the roast pork and you know, on the grill and doing like, it was amazing. And in my eyes it was like, Oh my God, this is the perfect marriage. There’s my dad who is this workhorse who has these recipes right.
And he’s, you know, he’s a builder and he can cook and he can build houses. Like there’s nothing he can’t do. And here’s my brother Nicky, who’s like my dad. He’s in the commissary, he’s Mae. And then here I am out there doing TV, doing radio. Like this is the team. It’s the, it’s the trifecta of success in the business,
but that’s not how they looked at it. Now, my father was old school. It’s like, is he behind the girl making the sands? Cause if he’s not, he’s worthless. So he never looked at the publicity, the TV shows, the, none of that had value to him. And I tried to make him see it and I could see where he, he wouldn’t know.
You know, I don’t blame him for that. And that’s a whole nother, that’s another book on my relationship with my dad. But, um. People were coming a lot and then people were seeing me do these crazy things. I had PD dresses and ostrich and we went through center city and you know, it was selling ostrich burgers at one point and I always was an out of the box thinker and I always thought marketing is what matters.
If you have a good product. What’s essential is marketing and customer service. And I remember we didn’t take numbers, we took names. Let me tell you. So taking names in South Philly, 1992 noggin thing. Hey, give me a cheese steak extra fried on your name or what? What are you writing a book? Oh, I know your name.
I’ll give you mine if you want my name for. I’m like, I want to give you your food. Well, I gave you my order. Give me my food. I’m like, yeah, I go, you know what your name is Frank. I’m gives me to give you an eight you don’t to give me your name is frying. And that was a young Frank Frank, and he’d be like, you’re Frank.
And he goes, my names are Franklin. Well, you wouldn’t give me your name. So it’s Frank now. And then we genuinely cared about the people that came. You know, my father had always instilled something in me that I’d really want to pass on, is that people can spend their money anywhere. Why should they spend it at your restaurant or your place of business?
Because you have to not fake. That people are important to your business. You have to know that people are important, and when someone comes up to that window and orders food and you go, Hey, Frank, how’s your family? Right? You have to be sincere. Because when Frank Eaton says about his family and he comes the next day and he goes, Hey Tom, my kid, you ain’t made first string on the football team.
Well that is awesome. Make sure he comes, we’ll give him a hug. He get free fries. This is in it. It became a family atmosphere, so it was like they weren’t just coming to get a cheese steak cause they ain’t get a cheese steak anywhere. They were coming because it was part of their family. Because customer service, which today for some reason is non-existent, is the base the foundation of of what your product is.
You need a good product, you need amazing customer service, and you need to let everyone know that is in your place of business, that they are walking. You want them there, you care that you’re there and you understand. That they’re spending money. If they sit in a restaurant and it cost them $150 for a meal now loss when I still work to make $150 so make sure they get it and they understand and you treat them the right way.
Nella can you please everyone? No, but you try and I believe that marketing, the key to Tony Luke’s success were three things. Three exact things. My father and my brother’s work ethic, the food that we made and the marketing that we did. I truly believe in my heart that it Tony loose wouldn’t be Tony loose if it wasn’t for those three factors.
So even though me and my father, well, he doesn’t speak to me, I would speak to in a minute that if you would. And my brother, they don’t, it doesn’t take away from the fact that if there’s no my father and no, my brother, there’s no Tony Luke’s. So as far as family goes, those that are in the family business, here’s the greatest piece of advice that I can give you or respect each other and understand that not everyone is good at everything.
And that let people shine in what they’re good at and what one person does has no more value than what the other person does. There’s value in everything that a family does when they come together. And if you understand that value and you recognize that value, not only will you be successful as a business, but you’ll be successful as a fan.
And was out of the box thinking it was marketing. It was nonstop marketing that led to appearances on the food network that led to a national TV series. That led to me being on TV every single day. That led to me writing the movie the nail, which was incredibly successful. In fact, it’s on Amazon prime now and it’s doing credible.
There in the movies was made in 2009 doing invincible and playing the Cape plaid. Like all of those things made people say the word Tony Luke’s when they weren’t talking about food. So that when they were thinking about food, they even told him about Tony Luke’s all day about either a commercial or a movie or, or, or a series, whatever it is.
Subliminally you’re like, yeah, it’s going to turn you loose. And the food was good and the service was good and we appreciated people coming and it broke my heart when it fell apart at the original store broke to this day.
But I’m not going down and I will survive and I will come back and I, I, I will come back better because I think I’m a better human being than I was before. So no matter how far I’m already a winner, like I’ve, I’ve already, I’ve already won. Even if. There’s not a hundred stores now because I’m just, I think I’m a better human being than I was.
I didn’t, I mean this isn’t that the me really isn’t that the goal? Just be a better human being. You know?
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:11:46] Now with you at some point decide, and I remember this cause I remember trying these at the link. I was at an Eagles game and it was the first time they had the Tony Luke’s. Add home cheese steaks in the pouches, right?
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:11:59] Yeah. That was a great idea.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:12:01] They were doing the promo. I remember trying, it was actually pretty good
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:12:04] there.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:12:05] So what did you, what did you think about about that longterm? Was that a good decision? Was that a bad decision? What went
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:12:13] wrong? I think that every decision that we make can be a bad decision or a positive decision.
It’s just how we look at it. I’m not trying to be philosophical. That’s just the truth. I could say, well, that didn’t work. So that was a bad decision. Or I could say to you, it didn’t work, which forced me to figure out a better way to do it, which now does work better than anything ever. It’s it never, I couldn’t believe the success of w, you know, 18 months of getting the bread correct and the way the meat is done.
When I tell you, you put that sandwich in your oven and you take it out. It is. I’m saying it is absolutely delicious. You would never believe that it just came out of an oven. Never. And that has been the response on QVC and everywhere I’ve gone and laid all of these things that we’re building now, because the direction of the brand is going that way now.
Right. And that’s, to me, that is part of the, the, the evolving. Tony Luke’s. The franchises are still as important. The, you know, the stores where you go and they make is important, but it’s just an evolution, right? Your business should always be growing. It’s when you stay stagnant and you hold on to these old ideals and be like, well, this is all we do and we’re not.
We’re not changing. You know, I always give the example from a movie. I saw why I think it was called other people’s money with Danny DeVito, and he says, things have off. He says, I’m sure the guy that made a buggy whip. For a carriage and a horse. The best buggy whip there was was probably the last person that went out of business, but he went out of business.
Right, exactly. When you start getting a bigger share of a decreasing market, it’s the end, right? So you need to be open minded. You need to devout, constantly be diva. Never, never fall into complacency. Complacency is the killer of all business. Complacency is th is the killer of life.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:14:16] One of my quotes or mantras is that complacency is the mother of all evil.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:14:21] I wouldn’t disagree with you. It’s, it’s the word, but you know, we tend to do it, but you know where it comes from, it goes back to the human nature. It goes back to ego and being self centered. Like, I don’t need it. I’m great. Right? I don’t need to be, you know, I, I heard, um, I want to say it was Herbie Hancock.
Do not quote me, but I believe it was Herbie Hancock. They had talked to him about being a master penis and, and he said, um, no one can never master anything. We can continue to grow and be better and better at something, but I can promise you, if you live to be a hundred years old and you die. You still have not mastered.
There’s no way to reach perfection. You can only try to get better and better, and that’s the same thing. I believe that in music, I believe in in business, and I believe it in life. I’m sure I’m going to die not being the man I truly want to be, but I will die trying to be that man.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:15:35] Now, how much energy do you typically spend.
Comparing yourself and and or your businesses to competitors and to other people, or do you just blaze your own trail and that’s it?
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:15:45] Whoever was never, I’d always said, I always told people, if you’re looking at your competitor to the left or you’re looking at your competitor to right, or you’re looking at the competitor to the behind you, how the hell can you see where you’re going?
That’s a great point. Here’s the truth. No business can ever put you out of business. Only you can put you out of business. If I own a restaurant and then the guy opens up next to me or a woman, I keep saying guy, cause it’s just my thing. No worries. I’m just saying if a woman or a a gentleman or a group of people open up a business next to me that sell the same food as me, why would people leave me.
And me go bankrupt. If I continue to give good service and the best product I can, I may lose some business to someone else. People may want to go over and try it. And then some people may say, okay, well, you know what? I think their food’s a little better, you know? But Tony’s got good food too, so maybe we’ll, it’s when you offer horrible.
Uh, customer service. When you get complacent about the places and you don’t care anymore what the food tastes like, because you’ve got all these people come in, you don’t need it is when you’ve got a business. I did say this once to a group of business people when they would say, well, you know, every, every complaint that I had ever gotten when I was at the original store, I would answer immediately, even when I honestly knew the complaint was.
Hmm, maybe not so valid. I would answer and I would try to make it right and I remember someone coming to me going, dude, you got a line that stretches from your window, your ordering window to under the bridge on 95 yeah. You really care. Would one person who had an issue don’t, and I said, the day that you stop caring about the one person with the issue is today the line gets smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:17:48] Amazing. So what do you say to people that say you should stay in your lane? You should stick to what you’re good at. You know, I know you talked about your strengths and your weaknesses, and obviously that’s something that you iterate over and over about yourself, but quite frankly, you’ve been really, really good, if not phenomenal, at many things.
I mean. It was surreal to me walking in here and you were sharing a lot of the music that you’ve created with us, which by the way, I’m very thankful just for that moment in time. You’re a phenomenal singer. You’re now becoming a phenomenal pianist. Even.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:18:22] I’m a horrible piano player, but thank you. I watched you play
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:18:25] with my own two eyes.
I would disagree. And you learned how to play how long ago? Two years ago. Maybe
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:18:30] 18 months.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:18:31] Wow. And incredible. So what do you say to those people who say, no, you can only be good at one thing? If you’re a Jack of all trades, you’re a master of none.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:18:41] Yeah. That’s an old say. Okay. Um, there are certain instances.
When people need to stay in their lane because when they go out of their lane, you’re disrupting of something that they don’t know anything about. But saying that if you’re going to go into another lane, you need to have some knowledge of that lane. You need to have passion for that lane. And I believe that anyone thinks that people can only be good at one thing and should only do one thing, are people that are seriously missing out on life.
You can be a great doctor and be a great piano player. You can be a great sports figure and be a great dancer. You could be a great business person. You could be you. Why does society say, well, you know, I literally, I’ve had people come up to me and go, Hey Tom, what do you do? And I go, I really can’t answer that question.
I’m like, why? Cause if I answer the question honestly, you will look at me and think I’m an asshole. And I’m like, Whoa. There we go. Why? I said, because I answered it. Honestly, I’m, I’m a cook. I’m a restaurant tour. I’m an actor. I’m a standup comic. I am a piano player. I am a musician, a songwriter, a storyteller, a speaker, and AF.
So, I mean, if I said that to you, do you go, Ooh, you’re so full of yourself. So I go, I do things. That’s what I go. I do different things.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:20:19] I wouldn’t say that to you, but most of me would say the same about me. You know what I’m saying? Call me an asshole as well. So, so
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:20:26] why can’t we be all the things that we love, if we’re even remotely good at it?
Mmm. Well remotely good at it. Why? Why can’t we do that? So I encourage people to don’t stay in your lane. If there’s other lanes that you know how to drive in it, it becomes an issue. I’ll give you an example. I’m not great at business business. I’m not. I have a COO that runs my company, John Moser, and he’s brilliant.
My partner raver Steli. Brilliant. So when we’re at a meeting and we’re talking to attorneys and accountants, you know who shuts up. Me because I don’t know what this is. You know, the, the balance in the bottom line and the quarter. I, if I say, well, I don’t, I listen and I want to learn and Oh, here’s another great lesson.
I liked it that I learned that I like to pass on to someone. Never, ever be ashamed, never ever feel bad. That you don’t know something. There have been meetings that I have been in with attorneys and accountants and other business people and that that look up to me like the all Tony Luke’s here and you got 26 and then they would say something and I go, excuse me, I don’t know what that word means.
And they would go, Oh, it means this. No, I would not feel one. Cause if that guy thought less of me cause I didn’t know what the, the, the four syllable college word man, then you’re full of yourself and you’re an ass and I don’t really care what you think about me. Never be afraid to go. I don’t understand.
You know how many people I’ve met that have done deals and I’m like why did you do that? Why not understand? Well why didn’t you wait? Why didn’t want them to think I was stupid? Right, exactly. The stupid thing is not to ask.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:22:16] No. And there’s a great point to that because there’s a, there is an old adage, so I am actually a lawyer full time.
Um, and that’s why people probably think I’m
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:22:24] an asshole.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:22:27] yeah, I know. It’s all ego.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:22:28] Um,
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:22:29] but, uh, but, but there is, there is an adage and something that I believe in that legal ease is used purposely to mystify people and to confuse you and to make you sound really big and important. But if you truly understand a concept, and this isn’t just in the law, this isn’t anything, if you truly understand the concept, then you should be able to explain it such that a layman would understand it from listening to you explain it.
If you really do, if you really do understand something,
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:22:57] that’s a great line. So the,
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:22:58] the words that people are saying, the less they understand, generally speaking,
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:23:03] that is a great. Great sentence. That is a great way to put it. Cause I literally heard that years ago from someone that said, if you can’t explain it right, so that someone who doesn’t understand it can understand it.
You don’t understand.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:23:20] Exactly, exactly. 100% true. So what’s one of your character traits or personality traits that you’re the most proud of?
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:23:28] My ability to constantly try to change for the better. I think that that is something that was difficult for me to learn. But if you said to me, Tony, if there’s anything about you that you’re proud of or, or anything that makes you smile, is my ability to accept things I can’t change.
But grow from the mistakes that I’ve made, and every morning that I wake up, I can honestly tell you, I truly want to be a better man.
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:24:07] Well, thank you so much, Tony. This was an unbelievable episode. Um, so much to unpack and, and just a wonderful time. And I consider myself honestly, truly blessed to have had these few hours just sitting here with you, listening to your story.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:24:23] But I gotta tell ya, and I mean, this would all sincerity I am for, I’m beyond honored and flattered because I know what you do. And I know how well respected, because of course I have to check on you before you come over
Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [02:24:38] in Italian from South Philly was looking into my background. I don’t know about this.
Tony Luke, Jr.: [02:24:42] No, just, just checking. I’m just kidding. You know, and again, I am, I, I’m grateful. I don’t know. I’m not, you know, not to create this businessman. I just, I love marketing. I think I’m good at that. Um, but, um, anytime I can. Share my story. So hopefully if someone hears it and they’re not feeling too good about themselves, they’ll realize that no, whatever life throws at you, you can survive it.
You will survive it. And as long as you look at it in a way where you can make yourself better for it, then there’s always hope. Thank you again, Tony. Thank you, Tony. I appreciate it.